The USS Alabama Memorial Park
by Chad Whitney
In New Orleans, we don't often get to see military equipment. We do have one really great annual air show, and an occasional natural disaster-namely Hurrican Katrina in 2005-brings almost every military vehicle known to man to town. Besides these events, however, it's necessary to take a road trip to see some military equipment up close. I have always loved visiting the World War II battleship USS Alabama, on display at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile.
Last March, we had the opportunity to stop in and see the battleship, a submarine, and a really nice fleet of airplanes. The park has tons of great planes like an SR-71 Blackbird and a B-52 Bomber. It had been several years since we had been to the park, and our last trip was definitely before Hurricane Katrina. This is important to note, because Katrina ravaged Mobile just as it did New Orleans.
The park that was once a pristine showcase of military might and technology had become a disheveled bed of wrecked and crushed planes and vehicles. While you might think this would ruin your roadtrip, you couldn't be more wrong. Believe it or not, this has made Battleship Park ever so much more interesting.
The planes show the scars of being washed together in a hangar. My favorite plane at the park, the SR-71 Blackbird, now has huge gashes running down the side of its body. This allows a unique look at the construction of the airplane. I was amazed to see that the skin of the plane looked almost like corrugated cardboard. It is like having a cut-away view of the sort found in educational books about military planes. Every part on the right side of the plane had been affected. I told my wife that it looked like a giant can opener had been used to open the side of the plane.
The park has other planes in various states and conditions. It is now proudly displaying its new F-18 and F-14 fighters. These two don't look like they saw action in Katrina, and the battleship and submarine also look mostly unscathed. The park also features a Vietnam era PT boat and a bunch of tanks to see and climb on.
The park is wonderfully clean. The displays are informative, and the staff is a group of really friendly people. I know that parks of this type are found across the United States, but this one is really worth the trip. I am not sure if they will fix any of the planes or vehicles damaged in the storm. I kind of like the way they are-the damage adds fascinating patina to the experience. If you're driving through Mobile, Alabama on Interstate10, pull off to Battleship Park and spend a few moments visiting a little history.
USS Alabama Memorial Park
2703 Battleship Parkway (Highway 90/98)
Mobile, AL 36601-0065
Just off Interstate 10, Exits 27 or 30
|Chad Whitney is one of the owners/operators of Outside Supply based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chad gained his interest in outdoor technologies from his love of outdoors and traveling. His background includes work as computer technician, network programmer, and solar panel installation in recreational vehicles. He and his wife have personally tested many of the products they sell during road and boat camping trips in the Gulf state area. (An overview of the types of inverters that are used by dashboarders and RVers is online here. If you have any questions about solar panels, inverters, portable power devices or GPS navigation systems, visit outsidesupply.com, or email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.|