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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

Museum holding open house

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii Museum of Flying director Brad Hayes talks about the Sea Stallion helicopter, one of the aircraft that are part of the museum's collection in Kalaeloa.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

KALAELOA — Since its 2000 opening, activity at the small Hawai'i Museum of Flying at Kalaeloa Airport has gradually taken off.

The museum of planes used at Barbers Point Naval Air Station and other military airfields will hold its first open house tomorrow and Sunday to commemorate Memorial Day.

Admission to the event is free, although donations are welcomed. Covered shoes are required for the tours, which will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., leaving on the hour from the Kalaeloa Airport.

"We plan to hold these open houses on Memorial Day and Fourth of July," said museum director Brad Hayes. "Slowly, we've been building up our inventory here, so we hope to get a nice audience out here this weekend."

Hayes was originally given five military planes from the Navy — three A-4 Skyhawks, an F-4 Phantom and a P-3 Orion when Barbers Point Naval Air Station closed in 1999. He has since added two more aircraft, a TH-1L Huey and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, along with several military vehicles and fire trucks.

Hayes is a Marine veteran who never flew a plane during his military service, but he is a commercial glider pilot and an aviation enthusiast.

"In some ways we had to start from scratch in putting these babies together," he said. "The military would give us the planes, but they would take out all of the interior parts. We've gone everywhere from other aviation enthusiasts to foreign military to find the proper knobs and dials to make it authentic, even down to the uniforms and flight manuals."

And that is what Hayes wants to be the attraction to the museum displays: being allowed to touch the instruments and sit in the cockpits.

"There aren't many places that allow you to do that," Hayes said. "I tell you the kids go nuts every time they get to (sit) inside and when we dress them up in uniforms. What's great for teachers about the school excursions is it does keep the kids occupied."

The museum is open to schools and other groups by appointment.

As with other visitor attractions, attendance at the museum has declined since Sept. 11, when Japanese tour groups that visited regularly stopped coming, Hayes said. "A lot of volunteers have been taking out of their own pockets to keep up with operating costs."

Recently, it's been movie producers filming in the Islands that have helped pay the museum's bills. The makers of an upcoming Bruce Willis movie titled "Hostile Rescue" borrowed some of the museum's planes and vehicles in exchange for a donation to the nonprofit organization and a possible movie credit.

Because the operation is made up of volunteers, Hayes' job of museum director and full-time volunteer comes with additional duties as mechanic and custodian, which he doesn't mind.

"It's a cool job," he said. "To be able to work with something you truly love. I won't get rich doing this, but I'm happy nonetheless."

For more information about this weekend's event, call the museum at 682-4041.