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The visitor's experience begins in Hangar 37, a 42,000 square foot former seaplane hangar that survived the December 7, 1941 attack. Transportation to Ford Island is via trolleys, which will make a brief stop at the USS Battleship Missouri. After arrival in the Pacific Aviation Museum’s lobby, guests enter a 200-seat theater where they view a 12-minute award winning movie covering the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, including historic footage, East, Wind, Rain.
Leaving the theater visitors enter a corridor that sets the stage with sound effects and photos of what life was like on December 7th, 1941. Upon entering the exhibit area of 25,000 square feet, visitors first see an authentic Japanese Zero in a diorama setting on the deck of the Japanese carrier Hiryu at dawn on December 7th. Also in the Oahu attack there is an actual light civilian plane that was airborne (and shot) during the attack, together with a P-40 fighter of the type airborne from Wheeler and Haleiwa Field on the fateful day. Visitors will then be enthralled with an exhibit relating the full story, both before and after, of one of the Japanese Zeros that crash landed on island of Niihau.
The year 1942 was one of “desperate courage.” Exhibits include an actual B-25B quite similar to one used on the Doolittle Raid on Japan in April, 1942. An SBD Dauntless dive bomber is the cornerstone of telling about the Battle of Midway. An authentic Grumman Wildcat is featured in the Guadalcanal diorama as the story of the “Cactus Air Force” is told. Finally, the story of America’s mobilization for war – manufacturing airplanes and training pilots in particular – is told using the actual Stearman N2S-3 in which former President Bush soloed.
Visitors then have the opportunity to become a WWII pilot in one of the museum’s six interactive simulators, and enjoy a delicious lunch in the museum’s restaurant, the Laniakea Cafe. The museum’s store features “everything to do with aviation” and the December 7th, 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks.
Guests can continue along to the Museum's second hangar where they can view the newly designed Korean War exhibit featuring an F-86 Sabre and its rival the MiG-15. Rare vintage and modern jets occupy this 83,000 square foot hangar that was used in the 1940's as an aircraft repair facility. See the renovated restoration shop and watch Museum staff restore aircraft awaiting display at the Museum.
The Museum has future plans for Hangar 79. When completed, the story of World War II air war will be told. Interactive exhibits and vintage aircraft will cover the major theaters of the Pacific war, including the Philippines, the Aleutian Islands, Solomon Islands and China, and the closing in on the Japanese home islands. A full-scale replica of a WW II aircraft carrier deck will be featured to help tell how carriers introduced a new mobility to Naval warfare.You can donate to help support their efforts here.
Space will be available for traveling exhibits and for meetings and special occasion events for large groups of up to 1,000.