The Hampton Roads metropolitan area and Eastern Shore of Virginia has its pros and cons, but one of the super cool things about the area is its ties NASA, the space race, and aeronautics in general. From NASA's Wallops Island Launch and Space facility to NASA's Langley Research Facility in Hampton to the myriad of military bases, NASA's Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, we have a lot of air and space stuff going on.
The city of Hampton runs this completely free, 15 acre park that features a number of airplanes, rockets, and a small visitor center with hundreds of model airplanes, space vehicles, and a few activities and exhibits. It's a great way to spend an hour or two, and the planes and rockets are terriffic for young (and over the hill) kids. It also features some of Langley Air Force base's contributions to flight and space travel.
One of the highlights for us was one of the Little Joe rockets. These rockets were used to test the single seat Mercury capsules, launched from Wallops Island. These rockets helped pave the way for the Mercury project to successfully launch the first Americans into space, and to provide a stepping stone to help land us on the moon.
Another highlight was a variant of the F4 Phantom. My uncles flew the F4 in the Vietnam War. There are a few around Virginia Beach as well, and it's always fun to point them out to the kids. This particular F4 was an RF4 used for tactical reconnaisance. Other planes on display include a P.1127 Kestrel, an F-86L Sabre, an A-7E Corsair II, an F-101F Voodoo, an F-89J Scorpion, an F-105D Thunderchief, a T-33A Trainer, and an F-100D Super Sabre. Lots of stuff to check out.
This is a terrific park to visit, and while there are many great city parks, there are very few city parks similar to this in theme and presentation in the entire United States. There are a number of space exhibits on display, including a Mercury capsule, as we pay homage to in our Mercury Orange Candle, a replica Saturn V rocket which we pay homage to in our Apollo Space Scent Candle in case you want to know what various portions of space smell like. We didn't see any Gemini exhibits as our Gemini Space Ice Cream Candle represents, but there are plenty of Space and space race exhibits, and even a replica mars probe. Again, this is a spot we highly recommend checking out if you're in the area.