Nicholas Cage jumped from the deck of the USS Intrepid in the movie National Treasure, but the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is worth sticking around and checking out. 🙂 The ship itself is one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II and participated in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The USS Intrepid was not decommissioned up 1974 and recovered Mercury and Gemini capsules along with serving in Vietnam.
The USS Intrepid became foundation of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City in 1982. Today you can walk along her flight deck, hangers, engine rooms, up the bridge tower, and more. The ship alone can take hours to see and that is not including any of the impressive collection of aircraft displayed on the deck and in the hangers.
My favorite aircraft to see was the US Navy F-14 Tomcat. I have loved that plane since I was a kid and most of you might think it was because of the movie Top Gun, but it was actually because of the GI Joe Sky Striker toy with Ace as its pilot. Besides the Tomcat I loved seeing the utilitarian looking Huey helicopter (the workhorse of the Vietnam War), a Concorde airliner, and a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane (the predecessor of the SR-71 Blackbird, another GI Joe toy I had as a kid).
As cool as seeing all the aircraft and walking through various parts of the ship were, my second favorite thing at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum was chatting with the older veterans whose served aboard when it was an active vessel. We ended up chatting with them for at least half an hour as they showed us various functions of the bridge and, more importantly, told us stories about live aboard, battles, and other histories that we simply found fascinating.
Along with the USS Intrepid the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum also houses the cruise missile submarine USS Growler. This submarine was one of two in its class built to launch a nuclear missile in case of war. It was a Cold War idea that only lasted for 6 years as the US Navy moved to nuclear powered submarines able to launch ballistic missiles.
Now it is time to tell you my favorite part of the USS Intrepid the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. That would be the space shuttle Enterprise. This was the first space shuttle built and used to test the flight capabilities of the shuttle. It was not outfitted with any of the subsystems needed to go to space, but it was still the first space shuttle. What was the coolest part for me was that I had already seen the Enterprise at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. It was switched out with Discovery (which I saw it ready for its last launch in Florida) in 2012.
Can you believe there is this much aviation history right in the middle of New York City? All you have to do is go to Pier 86 at 46th Street in Hell’s Kitchen to see it for yourself, but I must warn you…..don’t think you can do the USS Intrepid the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in less than 3-4 hours. Also, don’t follow Nicholas Cage’s lead and jump into the Hudson. Just not a good idea. Haha.