Located at the same site as the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, is the relatively new (opened in 2006) Pacific Aviation Museum. Recently, the whole complex encompassing the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri, USS Bowfin submarine, and Pacific Aviation Museum, has been remodeled, making it much more user-friendly and convenient for visitors. At the Visitor’s Center, tickets to all four attractions can be purchased, including one- and two-day passes (good for seven days). The boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial as well as buses to Ford Island to the Battleship Missouri, USS Bowfin, and Pacific Aviation Museum leave from this centralized area.
Visitors pay an admission fee at the Visitor’s Center and take the bus to Ford Island (an active military base on an island in Pearl Harbor) where they tour the museum. If desired, once there, they can pay an additional $10 fee and have an Aviator’s tour, which is where a veteran pilot walks around with you and shows you the exhibits with a lot more explanation and stories. We took this option.
First, everyone watches a very interesting and informative movie about the history of WWII and Pearl Harbor, focusing on the attack on December 7, 1941. After that, our guide, who did three tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, walked us around two of the hangars that had been attacked, showing us 70 years of Pacific aviation history, including 45 aircraft. The exhibits are really amazing and very well done, including very informative text at each exhibit. Our guide really helped to bring the history to life. The second hangar includes military airplanes and helicopters on exhibit from WWII to the present, as well as the shop where planes are restored in preparation for exhibit.
This is a great tour for anyone who loves airplanes and WWII history. I really liked taking the Aviator’s tour and can recommend it. I can imagine that each guide would put their own perspective on the tour. The only slight negative on this tour was that by being with the guide, we didn’t have much time to read as much of the text that we wanted to read, but overall, this was a great tour. History buffs and airplane lovers will really enjoy this museum.
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