HONOLULU (KHON2) — Here at Ford Island, or Moku ‘Ume’ume being its traditional name, was one of the bombing sites on December 7, 1941.
Behind stands a silent witness, the Ford Island Operations Building which withstood that bombing.
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This past Monday, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, for the first time, opened the Top of the Tower tour allowing the public to experience the top of the control tower.
Let’s go in and see for ourselves.
First of all, it’s a beautiful day outside because when they say you have a 360-degree view, you literally have a 360-degree view down from the ocean to the beautiful mountains with a beautiful rainbow being cast down.
I am a history dork, so I want to find out more about this.
Fortunately, we have the opportunity to speak with Eric Pradel who is the Visitor Experience Manager.
You just opened this Top of the Tower tour to the public — what is this about?
“The Top of the Tower tour, as you mentioned, it’s the first time we are bringing the public up to the top here and this tour consists a 40-minute tour starting at the base of the tower where you can experience a firehouse gallery down there as this base building was a firehouse at the time when it was in operations,” says Pradel.
“Also, after being introduced to the tower, you get brought up in a 45-second elevator ride to the top of the tower here which stands out at about 168 feet above ground level. And once you’re up here, you get a nice 15-minute walk-thru tour of the events of December 7, 1941.”
The whole process of getting this here, because this is the first time the public gets to experience this, went through many years of restoration.
What was the process like of restoring this?
“The restoration project on the tower took little over 10 years to complete,” says Pradel.
“The project actually started a couple months prior to me working here so I’ve had the honor of watching this whole project happen. And finally having it open is just amazing to see and just being here to see it. But this project, as I mentioned took 10 years to complete, took $7 million, mostly through donations, I believe it was, and then also through the help of U-Haul Corporation and the Shoen family, we were able to finish the top here and complete the elevator with the help of Otis Elevator as well.”
Why is it important that the public comes and sees this?
They have not just the opportunity to get this beautiful view, but the story that lies within it.
Why is that important to influence our public?
“As you mentioned, we get to see amazing views from up here,” says Pradel.
“But being up here, we can see almost the full battlefield of December 7, 1941 and the attack here at Pearl Harbor. You can see several of the airfields that were attacked that morning, such as Hickam field, ‘Ewa field, up to the ridgeline where Wheeler is. And also, Battleship Row, right behind us here. That’s where all the battleships were at that time, and today, we can still see the beginning of the war with the USS Arizona Memorial out there. You can even see the ending of the war with the USS Missouri battleship memorial and museum out there where the surrender papers were signed. And also, we have the main visitor pavilion for Pearl Harbor, the visitor center over there, and the Pacific fleet submarine. So, we can see all the historic sites from up here as well as see the story of the pacific war of WWII from us here as well.”
Because the air traffic control tower wasn’t completed on that day of infamy, they turned this areological tower into its control room along with the weather research that was done.
The Top of the Tower tour takes place every day from 9:40 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.
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To purchase your tickets and to find all the information, click here.