WWII History Buffs Need to Visit the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

F-14 Tomcat jet fighter

Cape May, New Jersey, is a richly historic area. America’s oldest resort town is home to Victorian architecture, parts of the Underground Railroad, and even its own piece of WWII military and aviation history. The Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is a WWII training hangar turned interactive museum, perfect for kids, students, and aviation buffs alike. With Ocean Club Hotel, find out how to make the most of your visit to this iconic location on your next Cape May vacation.

The History of Hangar #1

The Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum building itself is a piece of history. Hangar #1 was constructed in 1942 from a kit delivered by railway. In 1943, it was commissioned as a training facility. Dive bomber squadrons would practice night flying and target shooting over Delaware Bay. During its peak, the hangar saw nearly 17,000 takeoffs in a single month. Many of these planes and squadrons would go on to fight in the Pacific front of World War II.

WWII Navy flyer Dr. Ralph Cox then purchased the hangar and several government surplus planes to found United States Overseas Airlines. The airline offered both domestic and international charter flights until the planes were grounded in 1964.

After decades of neglect, the hangar was rediscovered by Dr. Joseph Salvatore and his wife Patricia Anne. They purchased the property from Cape May County in 1997 for $1. Since then, they have dedicated themselves to restoring the building to its original 1940s condition. Hangar #1 is now listed on both state and national registers for historical locations. Museum guests can tour the 92,000-square-foot hangar for impressive sightseeing and a unique glimpse into aviation history.

Fun Things to Do at the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

Today, this historic hangar is home to the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum. It displays 26 planes and helicopters from different eras. Visitors can view iconic aircraft such as the F-14 Tomcat, MiG-15, TBM Avenger, F6F Hellcat, OH-6 Cayuse, and the UH-1 Huey helicopter. There’s also tons of military and aviation paraphernalia on exhibit. “Hands-on” learning opportunities keep the experience exciting for kids of all ages. Fun activities include:

  • Taking a guided tour for an expert’s insight
  • Surveying the landscape from the top of an air traffic control tower
  • Sitting in the cockpit of a real combat airplane
  • Becoming a pilot with one of several flight simulator games
  • Exploring interactive, hands-on exhibits
  • Commemorating your visit with an aviation-inspired souvenir

The NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum also hosts AIRFEST, an annual event celebrating aviation history in Cape May. Every September, visitors are treated to theatrical performances, technical talks, live music, and spectacular F-16 flyovers. Grown-ups can grab a beer while kids enjoy family-friendly activities such as free face painting and caricatures. It’s the perfect time to visit and experience history amid a festive atmosphere.

Places to Stay in New Jersey

When visiting our Cape May historical sites, consider booking your stay at Ocean Club Hotel. We offer a range of stylish and modern accommodations, including sea views, sundeck cabanas, and ADA-compliant oceanfront rooms to ensure a comfortable stay for everyone. The large heated pool and complimentary sand pail keep the kids busy, and there are plenty of things to do in Wildwood, New Jersey.

Want a bite to eat? Ocean Club Hotel also offers multiple dining opportunities. SeaSalt Restaurant offers fine dining without the fuss, while Tiki Ten35 features a more lighthearted bar menu with frosty cocktails and live entertainment. You can even have food and beverages delivered directly to your chaise lounge on the beach.

Plan Your Trip to Cape May With Ocean Club Hotel

Whether you’re a WWII buff, a parent with kids, or simply interested in local history, the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum has a lot to offer. Ocean Club Hotel is your boutique hotel in Cape May, New Jersey. We provide comfortable accommodations, delicious dining, and local guides to help you make the most of your visit. Find out more about the Ocean Club Hotel experience or book your stay.