"But this prime location was the key," said Mac McLaughlin, the museum's chief operating officer.
doesn't think that will be the case.
Among the 26 million visitors to San Diego each year, some seem eager to make return trips to see the Midway
"One lady from the East Coast came up and asked me to speak to her
husband on her
can barely contain his
glee when discussing how the flock of visitors to the carrier so far has been a boon to nearby restaurants, tourist shops and harbor excursions.
museum's success, said Mac McLaughlin
Mac McLaughlin, the museum's president, said from aboard the ship earlier this month.
Early on, critics said the museum would be a flop, McLaughlin
keeps a copy of an article about the Midway museum's potential in his
office for inspiration.
Now, just four months after opening on June 7, McLaughlin, museum president and chief executive, happily reports that the Midway will have attracted 440,000 visitors by the end of October.
Restaurants, shops and hotels nearby will hopefully say the same thing, if McLaughlin
is committed to not competing with his
neighbors for business -- at least not food and beverage or overnight accommodations business.
said the museum has after-hours events booked on 250 dates through 2005.
And a youth sleepover program -- an offering that opens in January and includes classroom work, special tours and keys to a flight simulator plus dinner and breakfast -- is booked through its first four months.
The museum hasn't even begun marketing the feature, according to McLaughlin
"We're just knocking 'em dead," McLaughlin
said of the museum's performance.
said the museum is making enough money to accelerate loan repayment while continuing to expand exhibits.
A recently approved capital expansion will build public access to the ship's engineering section, forecastle (anchors and chains) and sick bay as well as bring three additional aircraft on board.
Ultimately, the Midway's board of directors, chaired by real estate chieftain Malin Burnham, will determine how quickly to repay debt, McLaughlin
It's not pretty, McLaughlin
acknowledges, but it is safe and effective and only one visitor has complained.
Strolling the carrier with a reporter on a recent morning, McLaughlin
stopped multiple times to greet some of the museum's 600-700 volunteer docents, pick up stray litter and encourage visitors to test ride a new flight simulator.
even participated in a home video being made by a museum visitor from Missouri who wanted a little background on the ship for his
Commissioned in 1945, the ship was the first to be too large for the Panama Canal.
and its crew over 47 years played a role in World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
And while Midway's history makes for one giant social studies lesson, McLaughlin
sees its more practical potential as proof positive that science and mathematics have exciting and, frankly, cool applications.
"I didn't know this was coming," McLaughlin
said of his
Like many retired military officers, he
expected to go to work in corporate San Diego.
wife Nora is a Chula Vista native and agreed to follow him around the world in the Navy
as long as they made San Diego County their home post-retirement.
Mac McLaughlin, the museum's chief operating officer, said he wants to raise $400,000 to install two elevators for people with disabilities.
would like one to operate from the pier to the hangar deck and a second from the hangar deck to the flight deck.
"I want everyone to be able to come aboard Midway