The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is one of the most unique museums in Hawaii, with a famous history that people come from all over to learn more about. The museum is located on Ford Island and has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The museum features over 50 unique and historic aircraft and a vast collection of aviation artefacts housed in 2 hangars that survived the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941.

In addition to exciting exhibits, this family-friendly museum has a store, sit-down café, movie theatre, and even a combat flight simulator. Entrance is free for kids under 4, so bring the whole family for an exciting educational experience.

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How to experience the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum?

While the museum itself isn’t extremely large, there’s a lot you’ll want to see, and you should plan about 2 hours to get the most out of your visit. The exhibits are housed in 2 World War II-era hangars – Hangars 37 and 79 – and an outdoor pavilion that still has scars from the attack in 1941. During your time at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, you can examine planes from the Second World War, learn more about the day when bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, and even check out exciting rotating exhibits featuring famous military planes from across the country.

Join the Legends of Pearl Harbor hour-long guided tour or if you’d rather go at your own pace, grab a free audio guide and head out on a self-guided tour. The audio guides are available in 6 different languages, so make sure to ask for the one that works best for you.

While visiting the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, you’ll want to check out the gift shop, which is home to unique souvenirs and aviation memorabilia. For those who need a bite to eat, they have an awesome World War II-themed café, which features classic American pub food like burgers, hot dogs, onion rings, and French fries.

What to see at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum?

Hangar 37 is where you’ll see America’s involvement in World War II really come to life. The exhibit walks through time, starting with a corridor that shows how life was on the islands just before the war and continues on to an exhibit of one of the aircraft that was in the sky on the day of the attack. With maps and other artefacts from that catastrophic day, you can truly discover the history behind what happened in 1941.

The second indoor showroom, Hangar 79, is home to a variety of aircraft from over the years. Here you’ll find rotating exhibits and vintage aircraft and memorabilia dedicated to the history of American aviation.

Make sure not to leave the museum without first experiencing the Fighter Ace 360 Flight Simulators, located in Hangar 37. These 2 simulators have a 360-degree motion so you can experience first-hand what it would have been like to fly in one of these aircraft. Take the controls and flip upside down, spin, roll, and loop like you would in a fighter plane. You can pay for these simulators at the museum or download a coupon for a free simulator flight on their website before you go.

How to get to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum?

Because the museum is located on Ford Island, inside an active military base, you’ll need to hop on a free shuttle bus from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Centre to get there. If you’re arriving by car, it’s best to put the visitor centre into your GPS, which will take you to a large car park.

The shuttles leave every 15 minutes and offer a quick trip directly to the museum. One thing to note is that they don’t allow bags on the shuttle bus, so make sure to leave yours in a secure place or store your bags for a small fee at the visitors’ centre before hopping on the shuttle to the island.

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

Location: 319 Lexington Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA

Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm (Closed Mondays)

Phone: +1 808-441-1000

Victoria Zelefsky | Contributing Writer