CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Workers at Pearl Harbor unloaded an F-14 Tomcat jet yesterday. The fighter was craned onto Ford Island for display at the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Jet set for restoration
An F-14 Tomcat jet arrives for display at Ford Island
The Pacific Aviation Museum -- which recently launched the final phases of its $90 million campaign to complete its Ford Island facility -- offloaded yesterday one of the last F-14 Tomcat jet fighters retired in 2006.
Syd Jones, museum curator, said the jet will be part of a museum exhibit that covers the history of the Korean and Vietnam wars and today's aerial arsenal.
Jones still hasn't reviewed the history of the museum's Tomcat, which caught a ride to Pearl Harbor Thursday chained to the flight deck of the helicopter assault carrier USS Bonhomme Richard. The carrier, here to participate in the Navy's 10-nation Rim of the Pacific war games, is normally berthed in San Diego.
The plane was removed from the carrier by crane yesterday morning and placed on a Pearl Harbor barge and ferried over to Ford Island.
Because Jones hasn't had time to examine the Tomcat, which is on loan to the Pacific Air Museum from the Navy, he said he couldn't estimate how much it would cost to restore it.
"It's been sitting dockside in San Diego for more than a year now," said Jones, "so I don't know how much corrosion has taken place."
The F-14, made famous in the Tom Cruise movie "Top Gun," was the Navy's primary carrier jet fighter from 1974 to 2006. It has been replaced by the F-18 Hornet.
The jet loaned to the museum doesn't have its two engines or any instruments or other cockpit items. The process to acquire the Tomcat was initiated more than 18 months ago, Jones said.
The Pacific Aviation Museum opened on Dec. 7, 2006, in one of three Ford Island hangars that still bear the bullet holes, strafe marks and bomb craters from the attack by the Japanese on the Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Hangar 37, the only one open to the public, cost more than $14 million to restore and tells the story of the aerial attack on Pearl Harbor and the first three months of the Pacific war. It features 14 aircraft, including a Japanese A6M2 Zero, F-43 Wildcat, B-25 Mitchell bomber, a 1942 Streaman Biplane flown by former President George H.W. Bush, and the Zero that crashed on Niihau.
Anne Murata, museum spokesman, said that so far $30 million has been raised from local governments and businesses to complete the remaining phases of the museum, which include restoring Hangar 79 -- which will chronicle the last months of the Pacific war -- and Hangar 54, which will review the events of the Korean and Vietnam wars and the Cold War.
Kathryn Budde-Jones, the museum's education and volunteer director, said more than 100,000 people toured the museum during its first year of operation. "We are aiming for 120,000 this year," she said.
She said the museum offers a one-day program on the last Saturday of each month for Boy Scouts interested in earning their aviation merit badge. Similar aerospace merit badge classes are held for Girl Scouts.