- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

PENSACOLA NAVAL AIR STATION, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Panhandle city long known as “The Cradle of Naval Aviation,” is celebrating 100 years of training the Navy’s top pilots.

Pensacola Naval Air Station hosted a black-tie gala Saturday night to mark the base’s 100th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the National Museum of Naval Aviation, which is housed at the base, The Pensacola News Journal (https://on.pnj.com/1obpPHm ) reported on Sunday.

Among the dignitaries at the event was Marine Corps Let. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation. Davis told the newspaper that he did his flight training in Pensacola 30 years ago. Davis said the base and the city have played a critical role in the lives of many Navy and Marine flight students.

“Naval aviation is really important to the Marine Corps. I’m in charge of Marine aviation and so it’s my way of showing support to NAS Pensacola and Pensacola Naval Aviation for all you’ve done for the Marine Corps and keeping our nation safe,” he said.

Pensacola NAS has seen air cadet training for WWII and aviation training for the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The museum is home to numerous historical aircraft displays from many eras as well as a movie theater, a library, aircraft simulation rides and an extensive collection of military memorabilia across all branches of service.

Saturday’s event included a slide presentation of the first naval aviators and special recognition from former President George H.W. Bush. Bush’s grandson, Jeb Bush Jr., addressed the crowd and read a letter from his grandfather.

Aviation Museum director, artist and former pilot for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, retired Navy Capt. Bob Rasmussen, said has high hopes for NAS and the museum going forward.

“I hope that the museum continues to expand. It’s expanded ever since it’s been here, since 1962, and a good part of that has been in the last 20 years,” he said.


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