Commissioned to service in 1943, the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid is now a wonderful museum and a National Historic Landmark. A Space Shuttle and a Concorde are among the museum's top tourist draws.
History of the USS Intrepid
The USS Intrepid is considered by many to be one of the most successful ships in U.S. history. After a victorious two-year stint in World War II, the ship went on to serve NASA as a primary recovery vessel and, following that, played an important role in the Vietnam Conflict.
The deck of the Intrepid
Mercury Capsule Replica
In 1974, a concerned citizen saved the ship from demolition, instead rallying to turn it into a museum where people of all ages could learn about U.S. history. It was the vision of Zachary Fisher to make the Intrepid a lasting memorial that both Americans and foreign visitors could enjoy and, at the same time, "Honor our Heroes, Educate the Public, and Inspire our Youth". The museum opened in 1982, attracting more than 750,000 visitors each year.
A Unique Museum
Climb aboard the Intrepid and you'll be treated to an amazing array of aircraft, including a World War II TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, an F-14 Tomcat, an A-12 Blackbird spy plane, and much more, including several foreign-produced warplanes.
There's a great helicopter collection on board as well.
Part of the impressive collection of planes can be found inside the aircraft carrier, where you will also come across a replica of the Aurora 7 capsule and artifacts such as uniforms and personal items. There is also a range of interactive displays and multimedia experiences. And of course a visit to the navigation bridge is a must.
A number of additional interesting exhibits are housed onsite, including a multimedia experience entitled "Kamikaze: Day of Darkness, Day of Light". Visitors can also check out the flight simulator "Transporter FX" and test their physical skills by climbing the museum's rock wall. A wonderful surround-sound film also tells the story of the Intrepid from her war days until her decommissioning.
Sitting beside the Intrepid, you'll find the USS Growler, SSG 577, an intact strategic diesel-powered submarine that fired nuclear missiles.
The Navigation Bridge
Space Shuttle Pavilion
It is the only submarine of its kind to be open to the public anywhere in the world. You can enter the submarine and visit the cramped compartments, including a once top-secret missile command center.
Also housed at the Intrepid Museum is the Concorde AD, the very plane that took less than three hours to fly across the Atlantic in 1996. The plane was decommissioned in 2003 and is now a permanent part of the museum.
With the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, NASA decided to send the surviving Space Shuttles to a select number of museums in the US. As a result, the Enterprise was moved from its former home at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC
to the site of the Intrepid in New York City.
The Enterprise, buit in 1976, was the first Space Shuttle Orbiter. It never actually reached outer space, but its tests demonstrated that the Space Shuttle could fly in the atmosphere and still land safely on the ground like an airplaine. As such it paved the way for the about 130 successful missions flown by its five successors.