Brian and I went on one last adventure over Thanksgiving weekend that I thought I’d share. His house is walking distance to the now-defunct Alameda Naval Air Station. Since it closed, many of the buildings and spaces that were on base have been repurposed, but there are still some interesting things to see. One of them is the USS Hornet Museum.
The Hornet is a WWII aircraft carrier, which was active from 1942 to 1970. It was my first time on an aircraft carrier so it was particularly fun for me. There were a number of helicopters and planes on display on the flight and hangar decks. Because they needed to manuever in such a small space, the rotors and wings on all of them could be folded up.During wartime, there could be hundreds of bombers on board at once.
We started out on the hangar deck, but soon moved up to the flight deck so that we could get a tour of the tower. While we waited for the next tour to start, we wandered the flight deck and got a great view of the San Francisco skyline in the background.
All of the museum volunteers we met were former Hornet crew members, which was really interesting and added a great dimension to the experience. Apparently the restoration of the Hornet was largely due to a fundraising effort by the men who served aboard, to preserve the history of the ship instead of letting it deteriorate after its decommissioning.
I’m glad they did, too, because I think these are the biggest kitchen mixer attachments I may ever come in contact with. My life would have therefore been incomplete without this trip to the Hornet.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Hornet’s service was its involvement with the Apollo program. In 1969, soon before being decommissioned, the Hornet recovered the astronauts from Apollo 11 and 12 after they’d fallen back to earth in their service modules and landed in the ocean.
I thought the museum was very interesting and there are a lot of tours that come with the price of admission. We took tours up to the bridge and down to the engine room and there were others — to the captain’s quarters, for example — that weren’t running due to lack of volunteers over the holiday weekend. I’d recommend this stop if you’re looking for a bit of naval history or just a different experience in the San Francisco area. Google is hosting two holiday parties aboard the Hornet this month, so you know it must be cool.
Brian and I walked home after our visit and caught this great sunset beyond Alameda NAS. Not a bad way to live.