Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

NASW, Naval Air Station Wildwood, Cape MayLast week, I visited the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, which is actually in Cape May, New Jersey (very close to Wildwood). If you are an aviation enthusiast, a fan of 1940’s memorabilia, and/or are interested in reading about interesting places that are great for day trips, then read on! This is the second post in a three-part series I’m doing to close out summer. Yesterday’s post was on Ocean City, New Jersey and tomorrow’s post will be on the Cape May brewery. While I was at the museum, I bought some things in their gift shop to support them. One of the items was a Rosie the Riveter tote bag (pictured below; perfect for carrying books!). If you’re interested in entering your name in my Rosie tote bag giveaway (US only due to mailing costs), comment below or just send me an e-mail: archer at jillarcher dot com.

Atlantic Ocean, Ocean City, Cape May, New Jersey
We took off from Ocean City and landed at Cape May. Both airports are small and un-towered. The flight was pretty and the ocean was the flattest I’ve ever seen it. Hard to believe this is the Atlantic, right? It looks like a backyard pond! 😀

The Cape May airport was built in 1943 as a naval air station for training pilots in WWII. It’s original name was the “Naval Air Station Rio Grande” but the story is that all of its mail kept getting delivered to Rio Grande, Texas so they changed the name to the “Naval Air Station Wildwood,” which is actually in Cape May. In October of 1944, the airport hit its peak of take offs and landings with 16,994 in that one month period! (Hard to believe since the airport has a small, almost sleepy feel to it now).

The big hanger is currently a 92,000 square foot “all wood truss hangar/aviation museum” that is listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places. The museum serves as a memorial for the 42 known airmen that lost their lives training there, as well as a site for community events and fundraisers. I flew in with three generations of aviation enthusiasts: my husband, father-in-law, and nephew. After watching an intro video in the old ready room, we started touring the museum.

Cape May, New Jersey, Naval Air Station Wildwood, museum, history, travel, vacation, day trip
The museum has the old Bader Field tower

Bader Field, near Atlantic City, opened in 1910 and was the first U.S. municipal airport to support both sea and land based planes. The Civil Air Patrol was founded there in 1941. In 2006, Bader Field was closed and the air traffic control tower was given to the Cape May aviation museum.

Cape May, New Jersey, Naval Air Station Wildwood, museum, history, travel, vacation, day trip
They have a great Coast Guard exhibit, including an HH-52 helicopter you can climb in
Coca-Cola
“Drink Coca-Cola”

The museum recently added a “1940’s Room,” which recreates a typical house during WWII. They also have tons of Coca-Cola memorabilia there!

1940's, WWII
Welcome to the 1940’s

My grandfather was a pilot in WWII. He never trained at the Naval Air base in Wildwood. Instead, he trained in California and was later stationed in Okinawa. I had thought the plane below might have been the type of plane he flew in.

1940's pilots, WWII, history, aircraft, aviation
OE-2 Bird Dog

But when I got back home and compared it to pictures I had from my grandfather (below), I don’t think so. The plane at the Cape May museum is an OE-2 Bird Dog, which wasn’t used until the 1950’s. I briefly considered but quickly rejected the low wing North American T-6 Texan, so I need more time to look into it… Anyone else know?

1940's, airplanes, aviation, history, WWII
Picture my grandfather took of the type of planes he used to fly

After our visit, we were hungry! So we had lunch at the Flight Deck Diner. We sat at the counter and ordered cheesesteaks and root beer floats. The waitress who worked there was super friendly and the food was great. I’m a huge fan of airport diners. They’re fun even if you don’t plan on flying anywhere that day.

airport diner, Cape May
Flight Deck Diner
Cape May air museum, aviation, history, 1940's, pilots
NASW
Naval Air Station Wildwood

Too soon, our afternoon was over and we were ready to fly back to Ocean City. We had a fantastic time! If you’re in the area, NASW is having its 17th Annual Air Fest THIS WEEKEND (Labor Day 2013). Stop by and check it out!

NASW, Cape May

Other links you may be interested in:

Don’t forget to take my READER SURVEY and tell me what you most like to read here and/or want to see here.

Rosie the RiveterFinally, if you want a chance to win the Rosie the Riviter bag that I bought at the museum, then comment below or send me an e-mail: archer at jillarcher dot com. US only.

Have you ever been to the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum? Have you ever been to Cape May? Are you interested in the 1940’s? WWII? Aviation? Do you even like to fly?!? 😀 Hope everyone is having a terrific Friday!

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Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

12 thoughts on “Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

      1. You’re welcome! Perhaps that group used also the Grasshopers, but the two aircraft in the photo are undoubtedly O-46. In fact, I was looking WWII aircraft for an Internet quiz about WWII planes identification and found your picture. I was surpised they weren’t identified and I started to search. It took me some time, but if you look for O-46 images in google, you’ll see there’s no doubt.

  1. I can’t believe I’ve never been there. Of course, you can turn a corner in south Jersey and come across something out of The Land That Time Forgot. I’ve done that a few times, at least. Still, I’ll have to keep the museum in mind for future outings.

    1. Hi Shamus– I think you’d really like it, although Cape May is off the beaten path. But if you ever find yourself down that way with an afternoon to kill, a stop there would be perfect. Sorry we missed you at the beach last week! Hope you’re doing well!

  2. Try the Stinson AT-19B Reliant or the Vultee V-77. They look very much like the plane your grandfather flew. Search for pictures of these planes without wheel pants or fairings on the landing gear struts. The Spartan versions look like the plane in your pic

    1. Hello “Uknow” 😀

      Thanks for these suggestions. Looked them up. One of them might be it. The nose looks right, but not sure about the wing supports. Looks like the Stinson & Vultee only have one and the plane my grandfather flew has two…? The more I look into this, the more curious I’ve become. Appreciate the comment. Have a great Saturday!

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