Sweet Bird of Truth

Or New York Day 2, part 2.

USS Intrepid pano.

Hard-by where our boat trip docked at Pier 83, is the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum at Pier 86. It’s another of the attractions available on the City Pass, and it made sense to combine a visit with our boat trip.

We had a pre-booked entry time, so we’d allowed ourselves some time to return to Hell’s Kitchen for a quesadilla lunch (very nice); passing people cooling off in a fountain on route (it was very hot)…

Playing in the fountain.

And also spotting this advertising board, which I appreciated…

Safe, secure, protected, with minimal charges. Just like Prince Andrew.” Does that count as heckling? I’ll probably get charged with a breach of the peace now.

The museum is housed on the decks of USS Intrepid, a former aircraft carrier. How do I feel about a museum stuffed full of military hardware? Well, this is not something I generally admit to, but as a kid I was obsessed, for quite a long time, with an ambition to enlist in the army. I loved all things military and would have adored a museum brimful of war-mongering gear. Fortunately, of course, I eventually realised that being short-sighted, asthmatic, overweight, over-opinionated, cowardly and bolshie, in both senses, I would make a woeful soldier. But some of my youthful interest remains and I’m not averse to some sleek de-commissioned jets, choppers, subs etc.

All hands on deck.

Sadly, unlike the rest of the family, whilst I liked looking at all the exhibits, and took loads of photos, I didn’t pay much attention to the accompanying information boards, so I’ve very little idea what the various bits of kit in the photos actually are.

Urgent warning plane?
Spotted Laternfly.

This on the other hand, is a Spotted Laternfly, a species which is native to China, but which has been spreading and has now arrived in the US, including New York. Apparently, it’s a bit of a nuisance. Nice to look at though, with very striking bright red underwings.

On the bridge.
Planes and choppers.
MiG planes.

I was quite surprised to see these two Russian built MiG planes in the museum, the like of which, I think I’m right in saying, were used against the US in the Korean War.

Space Shuttle Enterprise.

The most eagerly awaited exhibit, as far as I was concerned, was the Space Shuttle Enterprise, which is housed in a large structure on the Intrepid’s flight deck. Years ago, TBH and I visited the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida, so I’ve seen a shuttle before, but I was still thrilled. The rest of the exhibition with all sorts of related artefacts, models and information was very absorbing.


I never flew on Concorde, but I did once sit in the pilot’s seat during a visit to British Airways maintenance facility at Heathrow. That’s a completely different story, but if you know someone who can pull the right strings and arrange a visit, it’s an amazing experience.


There was a large area of hands-on exhibits and the boys were in their element – they were keen to try, sit-in or on everything, so we were there for a while. We even played draughts in a mocked-up submarine mess room.

Space Cadets.
You press the green thingummy, I’ll twiddle this knob.

We ended our visit with a tour of the former Nuclear submarine USS Growler.

USS Growler.

As expected, it was highly claustrophobic. I believe the crews could be away for months at a time, and submerged for several consecutive days. It must have been hard.

USS Growler interior pano.

All very fascinating, and our day wasn’t done yet.

Oh, and the title? It’s a song by The The, the only song I could think of that is unequivocally about flying a military plane, although I’ve often thought that R.E.M’s ‘Orange Crush’ might arguably also be on that theme.

Sweet Bird of Truth

3 thoughts on “Sweet Bird of Truth

  1. Great place to visit and like you I wanted to join the military, to fly jet fighters. I actually tried to join the University RAF Air Corps which is where they discovered that I had a squint in one eye and that I’d never be allowed to fly. Probably just as well. I still love this sort of thing as well and a visit to those military air shows used to be a regular thing when I was a kid. I’d love to again to be honest even though they are arms trading affairs.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      This would be a top place for you to visit then. My favourite bit was the Enterprise, but it was all pretty good.

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