As in, “driving a Gladiator on the deck of an aircraft carrier” awesome.
This month, in case you hadn't noticed, marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first time that Man walked on the moon (or any chunk of dirt outside our own planet Earth, for that matter). And it's been a suitable occasion to celebrate for any of a number of individuals and organizations that were involved in the feat. But Jeep may have taken the cake with the most awesome celebration of all.
Just how awesome, you wonder? Think "driving a Gladiator on the deck of an aircraft carrier” awesome.
That's right, to mark the half century since the Apollo 11 crew splashed back down onto Earth, FCA's off-road division put a whole bunch of its off-roaders – old and new – on the flight and hangar decks of the USS Hornet, and let customers actually drive some of them on the floating runways.
Just what does the USS Hornet have to do with the moon landing, you wonder? The WWII aircraft carrier, now docked on permanent display in Alameda, California, was the vessel used to recover the capsules of both Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 upon their splashdown in the Pacific.
Having cut its teeth mobilizing US forces during WWII, Jeep put several of its vehicles on board for the occasion, including a 1944 Willys MB, a '51 M38 Navy Jeep, a smattering of concept vehicles, and two of its latest: the 2019 Wrangler and the 2020 Gladiator, which visitors got the chance to drive on the flight deck.
And not just any flight deck, either. CV-12 was instrumental in driving Imperial Japan out of New Guinea, the Mariana islands, and the Philippines (to name just a few) on the path to victory. She was decommissioned in 1970 and reopened as a museum in 1998.