Moffett Field may no longer be the active U.S. Naval Air Station that it once was, but its rich history is preserved in the exhibits of the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum. When first built back in the early 1930s, three enormous hangars were constructed to house the massive airships (dirigibles) that were, at the time, an important part of national security. Hangar 1, Hangar 2, and Hangar 3 are all massive structures and give Moffett Field its identity. Hangar 1 is by far the most recognized and talked about hangar of the three as it still remains one of the biggest single enclosed structures in the world.
Up until recently, the Moffett Field Historical Society was housed inside of Hangar 1, but today, the museum has been moved to a smaller building in the shadows of the hangar.
When you enter the museum, you will see a series of exhibits that traces the history of NAS Moffett Field from its earliest days through WW II, the Cold War period and on up to the modern era when electronics began to play a crucial role in the Navy’s defense systems.
Today the base is home to the 129th Rescue Wing of the California National Guard and hosts four university branch campuses. Active-duty military families live in community housing and defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, uses the airfield. The founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, own Hangar 211 and pay NASA $1.3 million each year to house their private Boeing 767 and small fleet of Gulfstream V jets. When the President of the United States visits the Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, Air Force One lands on one of the two active runways.
Located between Sunnyvale and Mountain View, just off of Highway 101, the museum is open between 10:00am and 2:00pm from Wednesday through Saturday. Because this is still a U.S. Naval facility, be prepared to show your I.D. when you come through the main gate to visit. Once you step inside, you will get a fascinating glimpse at the many important ways that Moffett Field, and the men and women who were based there, contributed to the national interests of the American public.
As a naval officer, you were entitled to certain privileges that were not available to the enlisted men and women. One example of the benefits that officers of all ranks received can be seen in the Officers’ Messes. The museum’s extensive collection of fine china and silverware shows you a rare view of formal Navy life in the 20th century.
Who was Admiral Moffett and what role did he play in developing the naval airfield? You’ll get answers to these questions and a look into the early history of Moffett Field as you tour through some of the displays.
Definitely the focal point of the base, the hangars were built to accommodate 200 foot-long dirigibles and other air ships. Discover the role these behemoths had in surveillance and transportation. Learn about the main tenant in Hangar 1, the USS Macon, through scale models, photographs and historical artifacts.
Your tour will take you through WW II, the fighter/attack era and into the Cold War period of history. NASA was part of the Moffett Field complex and you’ll get a chance to see displays that shed light on the experimental flight testing they did and the flight simulators they used.
Kids can get into real cockpits and pretend they are piloting their own fighter jets. Take a moment to remember the men and women who lost their lives while serving. Be amazed by the variety and styles of uniforms as they changed over the years.
It is well worth the short drive from the Camino Inn and Suites to spend a few hours at the museum. A visit to the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum will remind you of the importance of never forgetting the role this Naval Air Station had in American history.