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Caroline E Willis

Steampunk Vacation in Pensacola: Lighter Than Air

Cold weather is hard on machines—metal turns brittle, gears shrink, and steam turns to frost. The next few weeks have the bustle of the holidays to distract you, but then what? Well, if you’re a fan of all things airship, escape the chill and come down to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola to see the Lighter Than Air Exhibit.

The museum’s enormous network of hangars is filled with every imaginable aircraft; docents are quick to offer a map. Make your way past jets and biplanes to the second floor where a pair of baskets from Navy balloons welcome you to the Lighter than Air exhibit. The artifacts here tend toward the very large and the very small. Suspended near the entrance to the exhibit is the nose cone of a ZPG-2, large enough for me to park my car under; nearby, the single wing badge of a Navy Dirigible Pilot glitters, small enough hide under a playing card.

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