The new Virtual Reality Naval Flight Experience, Joint Exercise: the Screaming Eagles at the USS Iowa museum was high flying fun!
Before we ventured to the flight simulator, we toured the massive USS Iowa. The recommended time to tour the battleship was 2 hours. I recommend doubling that at least if you or your kids are interested in anything military, history, naval, marine or avionics. The battleship has a lot to see and touch with self guided tours and videos suited to different interest levels all available via the USS Iowa app. You can download the app for fun! A few of the tour options are: New Recruit’s Tour, Kid’s Tour and The IOWA’s Weapons. My son really enjoyed looking for “Vicky” the ship’s mascot. Vicky was a cute little mutt that has a special history with the USS Iowa. At the end of the tour, after each “Vicky” was found, my son received a sticker and a small keepsake that made him feel like he received a huge trophy.
The USS Iowa was ordered in 1939 at a cost of $110 million. Can you imagine what that would be with inflation today?!? It was launched in 1942 and served during and post WWII from 1943-1949, then during and post Korean War from 1951-1958 and finally in the Cold War era from 1984-1990. Although the ship was retired for the final time in 1990, it still serves as not only a museum, but an active gathering place for youth groups who get to spend the night aboard the battleship where they get to sleep in the same bunk spaces as the sailors. My kid was super excited about that! If you want more on the USS Iowa’s history, their web site is chalk full if great info! Seriously great use of technology without the technology taking the limelight.
After touring the battleship’s museum space and of course, the gift shop, we headed up to the flight deck where the restored Korean War era Piasecki HUP-2 retriever battleship-based helicopter is displayed. I’ll admit, I am not an expert on helicopters, but I can appreciate a good restoration and the labor of love that goes into a restoration like this. You can tell the painstaking, diligent, detailed work that went into bringing this aircraft back to its’ lustrous glory. The “HUP” retriever helicopter was used in the time of the Korean War to rescue downed pilots, for observation and to bring in supplies. As one of the last remaining HUP-2 helicopter in the USA, it gives a visual to the fact that the USS Iowa has always had an avionics history. If you are interested in seeing what the HUP-2 looked like before and what it took to get it to the USS Iowa, go to their YouTube page.
I didn’t explain to my son that the Battleship Flight: Naval Aviation Experience was a virtual reality ride. I really didn’t want him rushing through the ship with his eyes solely on the “prize”. He’s 8. If there is a ride, an exciting ride, he’d walk through fire if it got him there faster. So, he was VERY excited to see the ticket booth and the “ride machine” as he called it. Bouncing with excitement he took a middle seat and then decided on front row action! With he and I seated and nearly white knuckle grips on the bar in front of us, we took off on Joint Exercise: Screaming Eagles. We were flying Naval jets! Okay, maybe it just felt like it, but for about 6 minutes, we were fast acting, fast thinking pilots! We sought out, attacked and destroyed the enemy. We were total butt-kickers! We also refueled our aircraft before “landing”. This virtual reality experience was, of course, my son’s favorite part.
We’ll be going back for sure! Next time we plan on spending most of the day with the USS Iowa and her deck mate the HUP-2. My son is truly interested in the details of the ship. I credit the personnel, the tour app and the overall kid friendliness.
As always, thank you, Desiree Eaglin of The Funny Mom Blog for this fun opportunity