The National Museum of Naval Aviation should be open to all citizens

Community Maritime Park, a public-private, multi-use park development on Pensacola Bay, is home to the Blue Wahoos baseball team. The stadium’s Fetterman Field is named in honor of the late US Navy Vice Admiral John H. Fetterman, a former fighter pilot turned civic leader, has been hailed for championing education, historic preservation, and economic development projects in Pensacola for all to enjoy.

Adm. Fetterman and the late Mayor Vince Whibbs Sr. worked tirelessly to lead a community effort to make Maritime Park a world-class facility. Today, the waterfront park has successfully hosted thousands of events for the enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of citizens.

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In addition to Maritime Park, Adm. Fetterman was also instrumental in shaping the development of the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM) becoming one of the finest Air and Space museums in the world. During his years as president and CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Fetterman helped raise millions to expand hangar space and the museum’s collection in the 1990s. He was the vision and the force behind a $36 million capital campaign to create a new wing of the museum, the National Flight Academy (NFA). Although he passed away just before its completion, today students in grades 7-12 from across the country can spend an immersive week at the NFA learning about aviation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics aboard the virtual aircraft carrier Ambition.

It’s all thanks to Jack Fetterman’s unwavering ability to “dream big” and not take no for an answer.

Since the December 2019 terrorist attack and the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Museum of Naval Aviation has seen a dramatic drop in daily visitor numbers beginning Thursday, August 12, 2021.

Over the past five decades, as NAS Pensacola’s historic attractions have flourished and grown, tens of millions of citizens have strolled through the National Naval Aviation Museum’s 350,000 square feet of interactive, larger-than-life displays, gathered along the Sherman Field flight line to watch the Blue Angels practice to defy gravity, climb the 177 steps to the top of the Pensacola Lighthouse to see a birds-eye view of Pensacola Bay, do an NPS Ranger guided tour through the six million bricks of Fort Barrancas, or paid their respects to the more than 36,000 honorable men and women buried at Barrancas National Cemetery – all without a single significant security incident occurring produce.

Following a foreign terrorist attack aboard NAS Pensacola in December 2019, access to NNAM, Historic Pensacola Lighthouse, Fort Barrancas and Barrancas National Cemetery was restricted to current ID card holders from the Department of Defense (DoD) and veterans who have a Veterans Health Certificate. ID card.

All other US citizens are not allowed to access it.

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It is unfortunate that for more than two years, citizens are still being denied access to a national museum whose operations are funded, in large part, by their hard-earned taxes.

Our young people are losing the opportunity to be inspired to learn science, technology and engineering or potentially become part of the next generation of American military airmen. Pensacola’s rich naval and national history as the birthplace of naval aviation is dismissed by denying access to its citizens.

As noted, tens of millions of citizens have visited NNAM without a single significant security incident occurring.

The time has come for the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense to find a way to reinstate the public access waiver at NAS Pensacola so that all citizens are permitted to visit the Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola Lighthouse , Fort Barrancas and the Barrancas National Cemetery.

If Admin. Fetterman was always there, he would tell the Pensacola community to roll up our sleeves and do it.

Quint Studer is the founder of the Studer Community Institute and a successful business leader, speaker and author.

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