PENSACOLA, FL (WKRG) – A campaign is underway to open the Pensacola Naval Air Station to the public.
For decades, audiences loved boarding NAS Pensacola to watch the Blue Angels, visit the lighthouse, the Barancas National Cemetery and the National Naval Aviation Museum.
After the terrorist attack in 2019 and during the COVID pandemic, only DoD cardholders were allowed at the base. The museum is now in the focus of a campaign to restore public access.
“It’s certainly a treasure we have there that belongs to the people and people need to be able to get to it,” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.
The community and local authorities have started Open our museum. There is also a petition with more than 6,000 signatures showing support for reopening the museum to all.
“You have a facility that is one of the top 10 in Florida, which is the biggest attraction between New Orleans and Orlando,” said Darion Schaefer, president and CEO of Visit Pensacola.
Schaefer said that at one time the museum saw nearly 1 million visitors each year, but now that’s only about 200,000 and has a big economic impact.
“Thirty million dollars of economic impact and we lost that,” he said. “Well significantly reduced due to lack of access to the facility.”
The FDOT has announced that it is working on plans to create a public corridor on the base so that people can still reach some of these attractions.