Tuesday, January 21, 2020
In 2008, for my fiftieth birthday, I took my brothers, Tom and Rob, to Hawaii. We stayed in Waikiki in a two bedroom condo. Linda and I in one room. Rob and Tom shared the other bedroom.
Leaving Linda back at the condo, Rob, Tom and I drove over to Pearl Harbor and did all the available tours. This was the first time any of has had seen the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, The USS Missouri and the Bowfin submarine. It was the second time I saw the USS Arizona Memorial.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum includes three structures from December 7, 1941. The museum’s main building is in Hanger 37, on the right in the first picture. Hanger 79 has been added within the last 12 years and provides additional display space for aircraft. The control tower is orange and white striped, also shown in the first picture.
The museum is located on Ford Island, in the middle of a US Military Base. To get to the museum, visitors must start from the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Visitor Center.
Do not attempt to cross Ford Island Bridge. The Island is a US Military Base with scary looking guards with guns manning a checkpoint on the bridge.
Expect Visitor Center parking to be a problem. During certain times of the day, the parking lot is overflowing, cars driving around aimlessly waiting for someone to leave. Adventuresome visitors might find parking down the street. There is a long history of cars being broken into in the parking lots. Signs warn to not leave valuables in cars.
Fences ensure all visitors entering the Visitor Center area go through a security checkpoint. Not as bad as airport screening but many items are not allowed inside security. Refer to Bag Policy and Safety Information for the current rules. For example, photographers can’t bring in camera bags. Women can’t bring in large purses.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum visitors need to proceed to Tickets & Information to pick up or purchase their tickets. From there, they need to walk over to the Bus/Shuttle stop.
Visitors show their tickets for either/both Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and USS Missouri Battleship. The same bus visits both sites on its loop between the Visitor Center and Ford Island.
The Roberts of Hawaii bus to Ford Island was clean and comfortable. The driver was smooth and efficient.
The main museum in Hanger 37 is the first stop. On the way back from the museum to the Visitor Center, the bus will stop at the USS Missouri Battleship.
The first thing to do is to watch the museum’s movie. The move provides historical context useful to appreciating the exhibits.
Hanger 37 has a number of historically significant aircraft on display including the single engine B-23 fighter bomber that made such an impact during the Battle of Midway in 1942.
The above biplane was flown by young cadet George Herbert Walker Bush who would later become USA President in 1989. Young Bush distinguished himself in combat by flying 58 missions and earned several medals and distinctions during the war.
The B-25 bomber was the type of aircraft used in the Doolittle Raid in 1942. During the raid, several B-25 bombers dropped bombs on Tokyo. This was the first time during WWII that the Japanese homeland was attacked. The raid provided a positive moral boost for the Americans while having a negative effect on moral in Japan.
Touring exhibits is hard work. Lunch break time. Laniākea Cafe In Hanger 37 offers burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, fries and soft drinks. The food was excellent. By the time the meal was over, the cafe was crowded with uniformed officers and enlisted men from the military base. Might be the best lunch spot on Ford Island!
Across the way from Hanger 37 is the control tower. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, the tower required a bit of work to get it operational again. After that time, it hasn’t changed much.
Signs outside Hanger 37 direct visitors to Hanger 79.
Hanger 79 feels much larger than Hanger 37. That is due, in part, to the amount of open space inside.
The time period the airplanes on display inside Hanger 79 cover is roughly WWII through the end of the cold war.
The above B-17 is being restored. It had crashed in the Agaimbo Swamp in New Guinea during the war and was recently recovered.
There are a number of cold war era jets between Hangers 37 and 79 like the above F5A, a supersonic fighter jet carrying air to air missiles.
The above Sikorsky SH-60B Helicopter, originally built in 1979 is still in service. This and other helicopters are also located between the two hangers.
Amelia Earhart crashed her plane on the runway across from Hanger 37 in 1937. Interesting bit of context for thinking about the mystery surrounding her disappearance on her last attempt to fly around the world.
On the way back to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Visitor Center, the Roberts of Hawaii bus stopped at the USS Missouri Battleship to drop off and pick up passengers.
Drivers looking for parking spaces followed us as we looked for our rental car. We found it and headed back to Waikiki.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!