Dec. 7, 1941, is a day that will live in infamy in the American spirit. On that day the United States was drawn into World War II when Japanese pilots launched a surprise air raid at Pearl Harbor.
From the moment one enters the doors at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor on Ford Island, the events of that day come into sharp focus. The floor is covered by a map of Pearl Harbor and strung from the ceiling are scaled replicas of the Japanese planes that dropped fatal bombs, sinking forever the USS Arizona and USS Utah.
Past the lobby, guests enter a time warp by traveling down a hallway rich with historic PanAm displays and pictures of Waikiki when there were still only two hotels: The Moana and Royal Hawaiian, on the beach. At the end of the hall visitors are immediately faced with beautifully maintained vintage airplanes, several of which were in flight on that December morning, including the Mitsubishi Zero.
Docents bring the history to life in The Aviator’s Tour. Visitors travel back to a bygone era where the battle for the Pacific in WWII is not only real, but also a much closer call than many realize. Progressing through the main body of the museum is a timeline of WWII, reinforcing how important aviation was to the battle in the Pacific. (Audio tours, free with General Admission, are also available.)
Beyond the main hangar, visitors can travel to Hangar 79 to view more modern aircraft including those flown in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Hangar 79 holds several reminders of the Pearl Harbor attack as well. There are still bullet holes visible in the windows from that infamous day.
With more than 50 aircraft spread between two hangars, Pacific Aviation Museum is a gem in the heart of Pearl Harbor. To get to the museum, guests can take a shuttle from the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center parking lot. For more information visit PacificAviationMuseum.org or call (808) 441-1000.