Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum Offers A Look Into The Past

Hidden at the western edge of Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport is a hidden gem for history buffs looking to explore the rich military heritage of South Florida. It is the former home of Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, which was established in 1942, and played a vital role in World War II and the Cold War.

The Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum is open to the public on a daily basis and showcases the history of naval aviation in South Florida. The museum features exhibits on the base’s history, including aircraft, uniforms, and other artifacts from World War II and the Cold War. Visitors can also see a replica of a World War II-era control tower and restored barracks.

In 1942, the U.S. Navy selected Merle Fogg Airport in Fort Lauderdale to expand into a naval air station for both pilot and enlisted aircrew training (i.e., gunners, radiomen) in Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bombers flown by carrier-based US Navy flight crews and by land-based US Marine Corps flight crews ashore. Additional facilities were used to train aircraft maintenance and other ground crew support for the TBF and TBM series aircraft. Among the Avenger pilots who graduated NAS Fort Lauderdale was former President George H. W. Bush, who went on to a distinguished flying career, and of course, a political career as well.

The Museum has been instrumental in preserving the memory of Flight 19, one of the great aviation mysteries. Flight 19 flew out of NAS Fort Lauderdale on 5 December 1945, to vanish into the Bermuda Triangle. On exhibit at the museum are the Link Trainer Flight Simulator, original paintings, cartoons, lithographs, drawings and photographs, vintage ship and aircraft models, the John Payne Memorial Library, which contains more than 3,000 volumes from military history along with WWII torpedoes, A Grumman TDF Avenger aircraft, WW II anti-aircraft guns and much more.

NAS Fort Lauderdale is a hidden gem for history buffs looking to explore the rich military heritage of South Florida. If you get to the airport a little early, be sure to check it out.