Memorial Day Opportunity : Visit A Iconic Control Tower That Has Been Closed For Decades

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For the first time in decades, a WWII icon opens; Tickets are on sale now. On Memorial Day, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum plans to reopen the historic Ford Island Control Tower, which has been closed for decades. The Top of the Tower Tour, a new guided tour that includes access to the historic Operations Building, the Firehouse Exhibit, and an elevator ride to the upper cab of the control tower – the tour’s pinnacle with 360-degree views of the Pearl Harbor aviation battlefield from 168 feet high – is now available. Historic recordings and photographs in the upper cab depict the attack’s impact and aftermath, providing a new perspective on the “day which will live in infamy.”

The Preserving Our National Treasure exhibit, researched and constructed by U-Haul®, is located at the bottom of the Operations Structure and explains the history of the building and tower during WWII and beyond. The WWII tale of U-Haul founders L.S. “Sam” and Anna Mary Carty Shoen, a family story of service and resourcefulness, is also shared in the exhibit.

In commemoration of Memorial Day, the Ford Island Control Tower will open for business on May 30, 2022. The renovation began in 2012 and has so far cost more than $7 million. Restoration of historic windows and walls, replacement of 53 tons of steel in the tower itself to support the structure, and renovating ceiling, flooring, electrical conduits, lighting, restrooms, and office space were all part of the 10-year project. There was also air conditioning installed.

The refurbishment of the ancient elevator, which allows access from the bottom floor to the upper control cab, is the most recent stage to be completed. The elevator lift system was restored and updated as needed using funds from the Schoen family of U-Haul and mechanical knowledge from Otis Elevator Company to maintain the historic components of the 1940s era equipment while also ensuring safe operations. Visitors will be able to ascend 15 storeys to the top cab exhibit and observation deck using the elevator. The restoration of the remaining outside windows is scheduled for later this year as the concluding project.

The following places can be seen from the tower, according to Bengston, the exhibit designer in the upper control cab:

  • Battleship Row, where eight U.S. Navy battleships (USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS West Virginia, USS California, USS Nevada, USS Tennessee, USS Maryland, and USS Pennsylvania) were bombed and damaged, with four sunken;
  • Military bases and airfields at Hickam, Wheeler, Bellows, Ewa, Schofield, and Kaneohe, where 188 U.S. military aircrafts were bombed;

The State of Hawaii, Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust, Freeman Foundation, Historic Hawaii Foundation, James Gorman Family Foundation, OFS Brands, Dave Lau and Sharon Elske, Alexander “Sandy” Gaston, Robert A. and Susan C. Wilson Foundation, The R.K. Mellon Family Foundation, CDR and Mrs. Edward P. Keough, Larry and Suzanne Turley, and the US Department of Defense provided funding for the multi-phase, decade-long restoration of the Ford Island Control Tower.


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