Posted by: Waring Hills | 28 September 2011

Open-Cockpit Sunday October 9th At Patriots Point

Akagi as seen from on high, 04 June 1942. Notice the hinomaru (sun circle) on the forward bow (Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

At 1026 on Thursday, 04 June 1942, Navy Lieutenant Dick Best locked his pilot’s eyes on the image of a sun circle on a Japanese aircraft carrier’s flight deck, located fifteen thousand feet beneath him in the Pacific Ocean. As he rolled his Dauntless dive bomber into a steep descent, his vision remained focused on the target as he trimmed his aircraft to compensate for wind drift. His body experienced the  familiar acceleration of a rapid, steep dive in a sequence of events that he had practiced over and over. Dick’s focus could not be broken on this morning by the anti-aircraft fire, the incredible plunge towards earth or fear of death. He knew the lives of thousands of American sailors and the fate of the battle for Midway depended upon his skill and courage. After forty seconds the sun circle beckoned to him, Dick reached out his left hand to pull the manual bomb release. His one thousand pound bomb plunged downwards and after sixteen hundred feet of descent hit the Japanese Imperial Navy’s aircraft carrier Akagi in the middle of her flight deck. Defeat had come to Japan.

During the Battle of Midway, SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Hornet (CV-8) approach the immobilized and burning Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma to make the third set of attacks on her. (Photo US Navy)

Watch SBD’s dive in formation

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be involved in something greater than one’s self? Have you ever wanted to climb into a Navy cockpit and imagine being a Naval Aviator and flying at Top Gun? Sunday, 09 October, is your chance to fulfill a dream! Patriots Point will be opening multiple Navy/Marine Corps aircraft cockpits to the public for viewing and entrance. Bring your children, family and friends to re-imagine the greatest generation as they fought in the Pacific. Sit in various cockpits (jets, props, helicopters) and you can imagine flying in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan…

Aircraft that are being opened to the public include the SBD Dauntless, F-9 Cougar, H-1 Huey, S-3 Viking, H-3 Sea King and the A-6 Intruder. Cockpits will be open from 10 AM till 4 PM on Sunday, 09 October. Normal museum admission will be charged for the day.

Below is a sneak peek at our SBD (Scout Bomber Douglas) Dauntless cockpit, come on out and just imagine being a pilot for a day…take home memories of greatness and a new appreciation for our freedom…

Cockpit instruments and plotting board at bottom in our Dauntless.

Left side of cockpit, throttle, prop and mixture control, fuel tank selection switches.

Right side of cockpit, gear handle, electrical switches, dive flaps, gear handle, etc.



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