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Designers and engineers spent the late 40s and early 50s throwing all kinds of stuff at the Great Wall Of Aerodynamics to see what would stick. Two of my favorites from that era are the Vought F7U Cutlass and Douglas F4D Skyray. During its time in service, the Skyray was the fastest-climbing fighter in the US inventory. The Cutlass was a notoriously bad-tempered beast that held out the promise of incredible performance, which was never really fulfilled until the advent of the Grumman F-14. Both are here, handily parked right next to each other. The only way to see more cutting edge 50s era flight hardware would have been to have a dad who worked for Convair. And maybe not even then. It’s possible to stand in one place and see at least one example of every “-Cat” family airplane ever built by the Iron Works. Where else can you do that?

National Museum of Naval Aviation

National Museum of Naval Aviation

National Museum of Naval Aviation

While the vast majority of the museum’s collection is on air-conditioned display inside, the oversize or duplicate examples are parked out on the flight line. A trolley bus is available to run you out for a tour. While you can’t get off the bus for a closer look, you can shoot as much film or as many pixels as you can afford. The driver’s happy to pause for pictures on request.

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