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A replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, flown by Charles Lindberg, greets visitors at the entrance to the San Diego Air and Space Museum in San Diego, Dec. 20. Many volunteers assembled the replica in 1979 with three craftsmen who helped construct the original.

Photo by Pfc. Raquel Barraza

San Diego Air and Space Museum honor 100 years of Naval, Marine Corps Aviation

20 Dec 2012 | Pfc. Raquel Barraza

With this year marking the 100 year anniversary of Naval and Marine Corps aviation, the San Diego Air and Space Museum helps local Marines and sailors view a glimpse into the past to see the advancements throughout the years. 
For the past three years, the San Diego Air and Space Museum has offered free admission to all active-duty service members and two dollars off general admission to dependents of a service member. 
Members of the museum invite the Marines of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., to come and enjoy themselves, explained Terry Brennan, curator and director of restorations of the San Diego Air and Space Museum and a Long Beach, Ind., native. 
“This is our way of thanking them and appreciating what they do,” said Brennan. 
The museum mainly focuses on honoring military pilots and restoring aircraft of all branches of the military.
“We recently completed the restoration of an AU-1 Corsair, like those flown by the Marines in the Korean War,” said Brennan. 
Alongside the exhibits of aircraft, the museum also has many simulators in which guests virtually pilot an aircraft, including one simulator that can only be found in the San Diego Air and Space Museum. 
“We have the only F-35 Lightning II cockpit simulator outside of the military,” said Verne Wochnick, the chairman of volunteers of the San Diego Air and Space Museum and a Studio City, Calif., native. 
The Museum has earned the nickname of “Smithsonian West,” added Wochnick. 
Many of the volunteers that restore the aircraft originally built the aircraft when they were in use.  
Even with many exhibits and activities, the museum always has new traveling exhibits for all ages to enjoy. 
“Starting February 1, we’ll have a Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibit,” said Brennan. “Although it’s not very aviation related, it should be enjoyable none the less.”   
The museum intends to keep the free admission for as long as possible and hopes Marines take advantage of this inexpensive and fun way to celebrate Naval and Marine Corps aviation.