NAS Museum, Blue Angels practices could soon be open to public
A system that would allow the general public back through the gates of NAS Pensacola and with it access to the National Naval Aviation Museum and Blue Angels practices is in its early stages, according to a recent report in the Pensacola News Journal.
Retired Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, president and CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, said museum staff hopes to create a reservation system in which members of the public can undergo a security screening to get access to the museum and other historic attractions on the base. Since the 2019 terrorist attack at NAS Pensacola, access to the base has been limited to holders of Department of Defense ID cards and up to 10 of their guests. The museum also was closed for 10 months druing the pandemic.
The museum, which receives about $100,000 a year from Escambia County’s tourist development fund, went from 724,000 visitors in 2019 to 50,000 visitors last year. The museum currently has 38 employees working, down from 156 employees in 2019.
“The central reservation system would require visitors to do a pre-security screening, and then they would get confirmation from us. And then they would get clearance to come on to the base for an allotted amount of time on a specific day,” museum spokeswoman Malerie Cates told PNJ.
, a spokeswoman for the museum, told the News Journal that discussions about a reservation system are still in the early stages, and no final decision has been made on whether a reservation system will be set up for the public.
Cozad said the museum is working to find funding for a dedicated express road from the front gate at NAS Pensacola directly to Barrancas National Cemetery and the National Naval Aviation Museum, while keeping the rest of the base secure.