Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum invites the public to visit on Sunday, December 16 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. for the return of “Open Cockpit Sunday.” This is the fourth Open Cockpit Sunday Patriots Point has hosted since the program began last year.
For one day only, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the cockpits of some of the museum’s most popular aircraft, including the SBD Dauntless, F-9 Cougar, H-1 Huey, S-3 Viking, H-3 Sea King, F-18 Hornet and the A-6 Intruder. Patriots Point staff and volunteers will be available to answer questions and to share the unique histories of these historic aircraft. Normal museum admission rates apply.
“Open Cockpit Sunday is one way we’re working to educate the public about our rich military history,” said Executive Director Mac Burdette. “It’s part of our mission; but it’s also a great opportunity for our visitors – children and adults alike – to experience Patriots Point in a whole new way and to walk in the steps of heroes.”
Visitors will have the opportunity to meet aviators who operated featured aircraft, including Robert “Willard” Williams, a pilot who flew combat missions on an A-6 Intruder during the Vietnam War. The A-6 was the U.S. Navy’s first carrier-based all-weather attack aircraft.
Throughout his 7 ½ years of service in the U.S. Navy, Williams flew a total of 110 missions from the USS Constellation and USS Forrestal and later serving as an instructor at Naval Air Station Oceana. Williams was a ‘nugget’ (new pilot) when he reported for duty aboard the USS Constellation.
“The A-6 is very personal to me,” he stated. “It was a new aircraft back in the 1960s and the problem at the time was tactics. It was a new airplane and we didn’t know what we had. We carried more weapons, which meant more tonnage, so we had to develop the tactics. It was important for us to get the powers that be to realize the best use of the airplane, which was all-weather, night tactics.”
“In order to be successful, all aircraft need professional, dedicated maintenance personnel – plus thousands of additional support personnel – to provide the pilots and crews with ready, mission capable aircraft,” Williams continued. “Naval Aviation is a team operation – especially carrier operations.”
On Sunday, he will have his logbooks detailing his service as an A-6 Intruder pilot and will be available to share personal stories, answer questions and provide detail about his former aircraft.
“Most of us can go back and recall the time when we decided we wanted to fly,” he added. “I’m looking forward to speaking with visitors on Sunday – that’s the fun part.”