There’s something for everyone to learn at the USS Midway Museum, regardless of how much you know about naval history. The exhibits in the museum educate visitors on the history of the USS Midway itself, as well as San Diego’s longstanding ties to the US military.
Throughout the museum, you'll see many restored aircraft, all of which were meticulously restored to ensure they’re as historically accurate as possible. The USS Midway features more than 30 different pieces of aircraft, including helicopters, jets, and propeller planes. The airplanes on display are pulled from many different eras in military history, some of which haven’t been used for decades and others that are still in use today.
Cold War Service
USS Midway was the only carrier to serve the entire length of the Cold War and beyond. The USS Midway was the United States' longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, from 1945 to 1992.
The floating Hangar Deck is where you'll find the Battle of Midway Theater, as well as many interactive displays and restored aircraft. You'll also get an up-close view of the R-2800 Twin Wasp engine, which is a piece of WWII era machinery known for powering the F4U Corsair. You'll even get to try out the bunks enlisted sailors slept in when on the USS Midway.
Along with many types of restored aircraft, the flight deck also features the island or bridge area. This is the command center for coordination flights off the ship, as well as where the person steering the airplane sits. If you've ever been curious about what an admiral's living quarters on an aircraft carrier look like, you'll find them right beneath the flight deck.
In addition to the many types of aircraft on display here, you'll also get a glimpse at what life is really like on an aircraft carrier. The Below Deck section features the Midway chapel, sickbay, main engine control, and the wardroom, where officers had meals and socialized. You'll also get to see the narrow bunks where aircraft occupants spent their nights.
The TBD Devastator inside the USS Midway Museum is a replica of the torpedo bomber used in the Battle of Midway during World War II. It is the only one of its kind in the entire world, and the same replica was featured in the 2019 movie Midway.
Battle of Midway Theater
Nearby the TBD Devastator exhibit is the Battle of Midway Theater. This theater seats up to 90 guests at a time and runs various movies and multimedia presentations, including the Voices of Midway presentation.
Voices of Midway is a 15-minute film that tells the story of the Battle of Midway, which was one of the most important battles of World War II. It includes video and audio clips from real soldiers who took part in the battle. The film is shown multiple times throughout the day, and the ticket price is included in the cost of admission to the museum.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to fly in the cockpit of a military aircraft, now’s your chance! In the Flight Simulator exhibit, you can try your hand at flying and perform the rolls, spins, and loops of a real fighter pilot, all without ever leaving the ground.
While you’re welcome to walk through the museum at your own speed, you can also enjoy a guided tour with a small group of other museum visitors. During the tour, a knowledgeable docent will walk you through the different exhibits and give you additional information. As experts on the museum, with a wealth of naval history, the docents are here to answer your questions and improve your experience.
Catapult and Trap Talks
The catapult and trap talks are delivered from the Flight Deck. Here, volunteer docents explain how huge aircrafts were landed and launched from the ship. They are experts in their field—after all, the docents giving the presentation have first-hand experience guiding landings and take offs!
The process of landing on or launching from an aircraft carrier, known as trap and catapult respectively, can be both dangerous and exciting for pilots and those directing them. Former Navy pilots will explain what that process is like, what makes it so perilous, and how a trap and catapult can be performed successfully.
There are plenty of perfect places to take a commemorative photo during your visit. Snap a picture of you walking up the ramp to the ship, or take a photo while you’re in the Flight Simulation. Don’t forget to take a picture of the ship when you’re outside!
When you enter the ship, the museum’s photo team will take a professional-quality photo of the whole family. You can choose a photo package and get your photo developed at the Photo Center at the center of the Hangar Deck.