CAPE MAY — A former United States Navy base that trained World War II dive bombers between 1943 and 1945 is now home to 26 aircraft and other vehicles of that era in a family-friendly environment.

The mission of the nonprofit Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is to educate the public, restore Hangar #1 where the artifacts are currently on display, and memorialize 42 men who died in training there, according to Austin Myers, events and communications manager.

"We're located inside a World War II-era wooden hangar," Myers said. "It's a double-wide, it's 92,000 square feet. I believe it's got 4,500 windows, quite a bit."

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Although the history of World War II is the primary focus, Myers said aircraft and equipment dating from the 1930s to present day can be seen and experienced.

There is also a section devoted to the U.S. Coast Guard, as a nod to the training base nearby.

NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum
Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum via Facebook
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"We're kind of like a 'please touch' museum, in a sense," Myers said. "Some of our aircraft are open and available for you to actually climb up inside and sit into the cockpit. It's a pretty unique experience, you can't do it many other places."

Regular events include a free lecture series, typically concentrating on topics related to the military, Cape May County, New Jersey, or all three in some way.

Coming up for summer 2022 are the "Wings & Things" arts and crafts festival on June 25, a "Christmas in July" event, and the 26th annual Airfest during Labor Day weekend, for which Myers said World War II-era aircraft from other locations fly in.

NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum
Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum via Facebook
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Otherwise, the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is pet friendly and costs $14 for adult admission, $10 for kids over 3, and offers veteran discounts.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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