Orlando Airport’s Hidden B-52 Memorial Park

Nestled on the outskirts of Orlando International Airport is a tiny little park, with a great big retired B-52 Stratofortress bomber in it.  This particular B-52 flew missions with the 306th Bomb Wing of what used to be McCoy Air Force Base from 1963 to 1974.  It was retired and set up at this park, the B-52 Memorial Park, which was dedicated in 1985.

Here’s a fun factoid – Did you ever wonder why Orlando’s airport code is MCO instead of ORL or OIA?  It’s because the airport is still using the original FAA airport code from when it was McCoy.

The B-52 Memorial Park is located on Bear Road, just past the North Economy Parking Lot, and if you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it-  it’s set back a little bit from the road.  Once you’re there, it’s pretty hard to miss though, because a B-52 Stratofortress is HUGE.

I had been meaning to check out this park for a while after I learned about it, and I finally managed to stop by to take some pictures last October, after I came back from a quick trip to DC.  I had parked in the North Economy Lot, so this was just around the corner from my car.

I couldn’t resist getting a shot for scale-  even the tires on this plane are huge.  Please ignore the stupid facial expression in this photo.

There are several sidewalks and benches around the plane, as well as an elevated viewing stand that looks directly at the nose of the aircraft.  At the base of the viewing stand, there’s a sign about the park itself.

It’s possible to walk up close to and underneath the aircraft, which is fascinating to me.   I’m still a ten year old boy at heart, and I love airplanes and trains and the like.

There’s also a tiny memorial to the faithful K-9 contingent of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, but it’s also easy to miss if you’re not reading all the signs.  It just looks like a fenced off patch of gravel.

The B-52 Memorial Park is open 7:00 AM  to sunset, and is easily found with the help of Google Maps. It’s also close to the ride-share waiting lot, so you will pass a lot of loitering Uber and Lyft drivers on your way there.

Are there any hidden historical gems close to where you live?

 

Meiji-Jingu and Yoyogi Park

In the vicinity of Shibuya, near the Harajuku station, there is a Shinto shrine called Meiji-Jingu, or the Meiji Shrine.  Meiji-Jingu is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.  This is not a tomb; the emperor’s actual grave site is in Kyoto.

The shrine was built in 1915, destroyed in World War II, and was rebuilt in 1958.  The entryway to the shrine is easily spotted by this enormous Torii gate.

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Meiji-Jingu is located in part of a 170 acre forest filled with evergreen trees from all over Japan.  The walk to the main part of the shrine covers long gravel paths and small picturesque bridges.

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Barrels of sake are dedicated to the shrine.

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Another torii stands at the entrance to the inner shrine.

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The shrine consists of several buildings ringing a very large courtyard.

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This is a very popular attraction for tourists, so there are lots of people visiting at any given time.

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I was trying to take pictures facing every direction so that you could easily see the differences between the buildings.  It’s nearly impossible to get a photo there without some random guy in your shot.  Get out of there, Mr. Red Shirt!

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While I was in the courtyard, a wedding procession crossed the courtyard.

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The processional line contained priests, maidens, and celebrants.  Most importantly, there was one guy who had the job of protecting the bridal couple from the elements with a giant cocktail drink umbrella.

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Before entering the shrine, the priests did a little blessing of some sort, bowing to the bride and groom.  I quite like their hats.  It’s nice to know that the Vatican doesn’t have a monopoly on amusing religious head-wear.

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After a few minutes, the happy couple went into the shrine and I walked back to the first Torii at the entrance to the shrine.  A short walk away from the main gate is one entrance to Yoyogi Park, a 134 acre green space in the middle of Tokyo.

History time! The first successful powered aircraft flight in Japan took place in December of 1910.  That location became an Armyparade ground.  In 1945, it housed the “Washington Heights” military barracks for U.S. officers during the Allied occupation of Japan after World War II.   In 1964, the baracks area became an athlete’s village for the Olympics.  Finally, in 1967, most of that area was turned into Yoyogi Park.

As you can see, it’s a very popular place to be on Sunday afternoons.

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A favorite of tourists visiting Yoyogi for the first time are the Rockabilly dance groups that gather in the park.   Here’s four pictures of the dancers, submitted without further comment.

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Yoyogi is a favored place of lots of different people doing lots of different activities.  There’s jugglers…

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…and mimes…

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…there are boy band dance troupes…

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…and nunchaku users…

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…teaching other nunchaku users.

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There are all-accordion jam bands…

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…and cosplay types with many-colored hair.

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On the ride over, I saw two teens in full vampire regalia, with special contact lenses and fangs.  Regrettably, I did not get a picture.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen in Yoyogi Park?