PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A grassroots campaign is underway to re-open Naval Air Station Pensacola to the public.
For decades, the public has enjoyed going onboard NAS Pensacola to watch the Blue Angels, visit the lighthouse, Barrancas National Cemetery and the National Naval Aviation Museum.
Since the 2019 terrorist attack and throughout the COVID pandemic, only DoD cardholders have been allowed on base. Now, the museum is the focus of a campaign to bring back public access.
“It’s certainly a treasure that we have out there that belongs to the people and the people need to be able to get to it,” Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said.
“You’ve got a facility that is one of the top 10 in Florida that is the biggest attraction between New Orleans and Orlando,” said Darien Schaefer, President and CEO of Visit Pensacola.
Schaefer said at one point the museum saw nearly 1 million visitors each year, but now it’s only about 200,000 and it’s having a major economic impact.
“Thirty million dollars of economic impact and we lost that,” he said. “Well significantly diminished because of the lack of access to the facility.”
FDOT announced it’s working on plans to create a public corridor on base so people can still get to some of these attractions.