HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum needs your help to “Raise the Roof” of the historic Hangar 79. The roof is in immediate need of repair after decades of wear and tear.
Built in 1939, holes have rusted through the ceiling over the years, putting priceless aircraft at risk of exposure to the harsh elements being let in. There’s also the constant threat of damage by water, birds and high winds. The museum needs to raise $4 million to repair the 86,000-square-foot hangar.
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If you look up at the blue windows, you’ll see 80-year-old bullet holes from the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Hangar 79 served as an aircraft maintenance and assembly facility during World War II, protecting Sailors and Marines who readied the planes for missions. Today, the overhead pulley systems still remain in view and in use.
Kalli Abernathy, Director of Marketing at Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, said to place it in perspective, the floor of Hangar 79 is nearly twice the size of a football field. The roof protects dozens of planes that serve as a connection between the past and present, educating the next generation about what took place at Pearl Harbor. Visitors can see what happened by looking at the walls, windows, floors, beams, and yes, the roof.
The campaign aiming to raise $4 million launched on Dec. 7, 2021. Every donation up to $1 million is being matched, and the total amount raised so far is approaching $700,000.
“It sounds like a lot of money for a roof, but the bullet-scarred hangar is history itself – it survived the attack on Pearl Harbor,” said Abernathy.
Abernathy says the money will repair and restore the roof, mezzanine skylights, gutters and flashing. The monitors, she adds, is the 1940s equivalent of air conditioning that cool the hangar.
“Thus far, all of our aircraft have been kept safe through the fastidious work of our team,” Abernathy said. “However, because the roof is in such critical disrepair, the aircraft have to be displayed in a very static way – simply rolled in with a static display to tell the story.”
All aircraft in the hangar remain at risk due to the daily steps needed to move, shift, clear and position them to avoid direct impact. With the current conditions, the museum can’t display any memorabilia or offer other interpretive and interactive elements. However, once the roof has been restored and repaired, the museum will renovate the rest of the hangar to enhance the visitor experience.
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The Raise the Roof campaign will continue throughout 2022.