Updated: May 21, 2015
USS Yorktown - Aircraft Carrier Review:Have you ever wanted to tour a massive aircraft carrier? There are not that many places in the world where you get the chance, but if you venture to Charleston, South Carolina definitely stop by Patriots Point to see the USS Yorktown. I visited Charleston in June 2011 with my family and we planned on doing the Ft. Sumter tour but I didn't realize the USS Yorktown ship was docked here as well. The ship is amazing to look at and even more impressive as you get inside the hangar bay and on top of the flight deck. My 6 year old son couldn't stop saying how great it was being on the ship. His highlight was sitting on the seat of the anti-aircraft guns. It was like a scene straight out of Star Wars for him. The USS Yorktown was used in the Pacific offensive during WWII (1943-45) and later in Vietnam (1965-68). Eventually the aircraft carrier was decommissioned in 1970.
USS Yorktown - What's on the Tour? - Basically you are on your own when touring the USS Yorktown. Buy your ticket, make your way across the walkway that leads to the boat and up you go. There are 6 tours you can look at. Essentially they are self guided but you will see people on board that can answer questions if you have any. Many are self explanatory in terms of what you are seeing - airplanes, engine, room, living area, etc. I would say give yourself a good hour to see most of the ship. We started by coming through the main entrance to the ship, taking an immediate right into Hangar Bay #2 and then started Tour 3 which leads to the flight deck and bridge. There are quite a few narrow stairs you will have to take so be careful. It was 90 degrees outside and once we reached the interior parts of the ship which limited ventilation it was hot. After a few minutes of climbing and walking we were out on the flight deck walking amongst World War II bombers and fighters. You can see a list of all the airplanes on the ship at http://www.patriotspoint.org/exhibits/yorktown/. You can continue up to the Bridge where the views are impressive and you can imagine what it would have been like to be a commanding officer with this aircraft carrier. The flight deck measures out at 888 feet long. Another highlight of the trip was getting into the cockpit of the TF-9 Cougar which is located in Hangar Bay #2. Great chance for a photo op. There is a flight simulator machine right next to the Cougar but we did not do that. We took dozens of pictures - mostly on the flight deck and then down below in front of the massive ship.