What a great trip we took back in October of 2012. My favourite baseball team was in the playoffs and I found myself in paradise. And on this particular day, for someone interested in all things Pacific War, it really was a paradise within paradise! My wife and I did the standard Pearl Harbor day starting with the Arizona and ending with the Missouri. Right in the middle we visited the wonderful Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum on Ford Island.
What it doesn’t have in terms of collection size, it more than makes up for in terms of the quality of the aircraft displays and how close you can get to them. Housing the collection on such a historic site also sets them apart from almost every other museum I have visited. They also have a Zero on display and not many museums can boast something like that.
Although they describe their facilities as being in multiple hangars, the collection is contained within a hangar that has been converted into a museum building as well as a very large open hangar. On the day we visited, they also had more airplanes and helicopters out on the tarmac.
Given the location, there is an emphasis on the early beginnings of the US involvement in the second world war. My favorite part were the displays relating to December 7 and the history related to the Zero.
While I am not sure about the restored airframe, the museum has the remains of the Zero that crashed on Niihau (a small Hawaiian island) and I learned the story of the Niihau Incident. Basically a Zero involved with the Pearl Harbor attack was damaged but made it to this remote island. The pilot was initially hoping to get rescued but eventually terrorized the residents and ended up being killed by 2 of the very few inhabitants of that island.
They also have some great models related to the December 7 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor as well as some very effective displays.
In terms of my interests they had wonderful warbirds – though for some reason I could not find a picture of the Stearman on display. Since my visit they have added a Kate but it is not restored. The Dauntless is a gem and visitors can get real close to it. At the time I visited I was finishing Trumpeter’s 1/32 Dauntless so I was able to get a real feel for the colors and the finish.
They also had more modern aircraft to enjoy as well. That Air National Guard Sabre Dog might be something I will build one day.
After this, the two of us took the very short tram ride over to see the Mighty Mo. I’ve never seen a battleship before and this was an amazing site.
And while we were walking all over this ship, I saw F-22s come in for landing at the nearby Air Force Base.
In conclusion, despite the distance for most of us, I can’t recommend this visit enough. My lovely wife also enjoyed this day and remarked constantly how well done and relaxed it all was (this can pretty much be said for everything in Oahu and Maui). I couldn’t agree more. Although I am sure the prices, packages and tickets are all different now, I found it extremely easy to get everything purchased online ahead of time. I do remember the boats to go out to the Arizona can fill up quickly so its best to get these first and plan your day around that. Lastly, take a look at the Museum’s website and blog as there are some fantastic articles that have been written.
So what is your favorite museum or hobby related attraction? Let me know in the comments.