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Spotlight USA: the Intrepid Air & Space Museum is the Big Apple's Gearhead Paradise

This past month was “America” month at Autoevolution, a month where we showcased some of what we thought were the most remarkable and most memorable vehicles and vehicle-related Americana that we’ve all come to love. “America” month may be over now, but our quest to show you the best of what this country has to offer is still going strong. Welcome to Spotlight USA.
USS Intrepid Air and Space Museum 28 photos
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New York City is home to more famous attractions in a small area than some whole countries have in their entirety. We won’t bore you with a long list of them all. You can Google that if you wish. But if you’re a petrolhead or military vehicle fan, the Intrepid Air and Space Museum is the crown jewel of the Big Apple.

It must be mentioned, of course, that the staff of the Intrepid Museum was nice enough to send me, and one friend, free admission to the museum as well as a number of high-quality images for us to use. So we must extend the utmost of thanks and gratitude for their generosity, many thanks again, to all of their public relations team. Your hard work definitely does not go unappreciated.

Located at historic Pier 86 on the shores of the western side of Manhattan island by the intersection of 12th Avenue and 46th street, the Museum ship is impossible to miss as you walk along the edges of western Manhattan. Reaching the museum requires at least one subway trip from uptown or downtown and a bus ride or a walk west to where Manhattan Island meets the Hudson River.

As you probably guessed, the USS Intrepid (designated carrier CV-11) served in the US Navy on the high seas for four decades from 1943 until the early 1980s, everywhere from the Pacific theater of World War Two to the waters off the coast of Vietnam.

Intrepid Museum
Plenty of the ship’s original furnishings in the crew and captain’s quarters are available for the public to view, as are countless artifacts and personal effects of the men and women who served there.

The ship was due to be recycled in the mid-80s before a wealthy New York businessman named Zachary Fisher, whose disability barred him from military service, arranged to turn the ship into one of the largest naval aviation museums in the world. The ship regularly sees one million visitors per year.

Turning the corner of 12th avenue greeted my friend and I with a leviathan of steel and gray navy paint so enormous that it can be seen from the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel several hundred yards away.

A collection of some of the most iconic military aircraft every built rests atop the flight deck in a display that’s bound to make most wargaming fans’ jaws hit the floor. Primarily because nearly their entire War Thunder aircraft lineup is sitting right there in the flesh, staring right back at them. (That’s me, guilty as charged).

Intrepid Museum
The 27,100-ton museum ship is positively vast, and we couldn’t possibly cram in all there is to see. The long and short of it is, the sheer size of the list of heavyweight names in the history of aviation present at Intrepid is only rivaled by a handful of other museums.

The ship also served in the Mercury and Gemini space programs in the 1960s, and several exhibits are present highlight the ship’s time assisting NASA.

World War II torpedo bombers and rescue helicopters happily share real estate in the ship with iconic semi-modern fighter jets like a prototype Grumman F-14 Tomcat from the very early days of flight testing.

The museum has over half a dozen planes from Grumman Aerospace, a company called the nearby Suburb of Bethpage home, for over 65 years. Alongside other greats like the F4 Phantom, F8 Crusader, the American Harrier jump jet, and countless other famous planes.

The ship has a vast selection of aircraft that launched from its decks from its distinguished naval career. It must be said, though, the most extraordinary planes the ship features never served with her at all.

Intrepid Museum
Of course, we’re talking about the A-12 Blackbird spy plane, the Concorde supersonic airliner, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Those three alone would make a trip worthwhile to any museum. Each of these planes has its own self-contained space on the ship, so museum-goers can marvel at them in their masses.

The Enterprise Shuttle exhibit is in its own indoor chamber where the true scale of its enormous size can be appreciated in full. It also protects the fragile plane from damage. Concordes exhibit sits just beside the ship on land. Tours inside the supersonic airliner are closed at this time.

Located next to the Intrepid sits the former USS Growler, a ballistic missile submarine active with the US Navy from 1958 until 1964. This sub was tasked with launching nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles at enemy targets in the event of an all-out nuclear war. The once top-secret control room where commands were given to fire Pegasus I ballistic missiles now serves to leave visiting tourists feeling like they’re in a war film.

So then, if you’re the kind of person with a mixture of gasoline and jet fuel running through their veins and happen to find yourself in the Big Apple, the Intrepid sounds like a better choice than some snobby art museum.

 
 
 
 
 

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