The Flying Leathernecks Aviation Museum, MCAS Miramar, CA (San Diego)

The restored A-4 Skyhawk at the Flying Leatherneck Museum

Naval Air Station Miramar, once home to the Navy’s Top Gun air combat school (now relocated to NAS Fallon, Nevada), is now called MCAS Miramar, as in Marine Corps Air Base Miramar. Located inside the gates of the Air Station (but with its own entry, so you don’t need base access) is the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. This is a small museum with big ambitions (be sure to donate to their building fund) but don’t let that put you off. Start inside the temporary building and see the exhibit on the Navajo Code Talkers, as well as the histories of Marine Corps aviation and how they participated in the air war side of the conflicts fought by the Marines.

Dedicated to the history of the air arm of the United States Marine Corps, the Flying Leathernecks sport a very impressive and a very complete outdoor air park consisting of 40 USMC warbirds, helicopters, and modern jets. Among them – the venerable F-4U Corsair of WWII and Korea fame, the frontline F/A-18 Hornet, plus Avengers, Intruders, Harriers, Skyhawks, Hueys, Crusaders— you name it – all displayed in their Marine Corps markings, and well maintained.

For now, this is largely an outdoor museum so be sure to arrive on Open Cockpit Days. There’s nothing like leaning into a cockpit of a jet to visualize what it was like to be a Marine Corps aviator.

Hours: Tues. – Sun.: 9am – 3:30pm
Closed: Monday

Visit museum website

For hotels, we recommend