A Cockpit Crawl into Naval Aviation History

September 24th, 2018 | by scott spangler

Am I the only aviator who wants the pilot’s perspective when examining an interesting aircraft? Or am I suffering from unrequired Walter Mitty daydreams? Either way, with a cockpit crawl of more than a dozen aircraft, from the F11F Tiger to the F-14 Tomcat, the National Museum of Naval Aviation is a hangar of dreams in Pensacola, Florida. Scattered throughout the museum are more than a dozen cockpit procedure trainers (CPTs), which are exactly like fleet aircraft with their wings and most of their fuselages amputated. Each of them taught naval aviators where to find the necessary system information, and what to look for before they made their initial flights in these (mostly) single-seat aircraft. Climbing into the F-8 CPT during my first visit to the museum in 1972 is a lasting memory because I fit! But I was 5 inches shorter then, so looking to try it (and any others) on was a premeditated goal of this 21st century visit. Seeing the F11F Tiger (above) and the F-4 Phantom CPTs, both in their Blue Angel uniforms, gave me hope that was not disappointed. It has new paint, but I still fit. (Let the day dreams continue!) While there isn’t…

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