The USS Midway was America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, from 1945 to 1992. Approximately 200,000 sailors served aboard the carrier, known for several naval aviation breakthroughs as well as several humanitarian missions. It was the only carrier to serve the entire length of the Cold War and beyond. It is now berthed in San Diego, the birthplace of naval aviation and the original home of the TOPGUN fighter school.
Midway opened as a museum on 7 June 2004. By 2012 annual visitation exceeded 1 million visitors. It became the most visited floating naval ship museum in the world. The museum also hosts more than 700 events a year, including more than 400 active-duty Navy retirements, re-enlistments and changes of command. The museum also hosts approximately 50,000 students on field trips and 5,000 children in its overnight program annually.
Admission includes a self-guided audio tour, narrated by former Midway sailors to more than 60 locations, including sleeping quarters, engine room, galley, bridge, brig, post office, foc’s’le, pilots’ ready rooms, officers quarters, primary flight control, and “officers country.” Other features include climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits, videos, flight simulators, and a narrated audio tour for youngsters.
The museum is berthed at Navy Pier which has more than 300 parking spaces. It also is within walking distance of public transportation and other downtown San Diego waterfront attractions.
In addition to private events, the museum has become a popular media venue. In 2012 it hosted a nationally broadcast NCAA basketball game between San Diego State University and Syracuse University. American Idol has filmed an episode on Midway, as has the Travel Network, Discovery Channel, FOX News, “The Bachelor,” “Extreme Makeover,” History Channel, and Military Channel.