Freedom’s View is Within Reach

Help Open the Historic Ford Island Control Tower

Help us match a $250,000 challenge grant from the State of Hawaii that will restore operation of the historic elevator, extending access to the upper Control Tower cab to the public. We are almost there!


The historic Ford Island Control Tower that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 remains central in commemorating and memorializing the “date which will live in infamy.” As the only panorama of the battlefield, the Control Tower bestows visitors with a view of freedom’s fight and generates profound feelings of patriotism.

An imposing structure, the tower rises 168 feet above Ford Island. It is visible from the other Pearl Harbor historic sites — the USS Arizona, Battleship Missouri, and USS Bowfin.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, servicemen managing flight operation at Naval Air Station Ford Island were stationed in the Aerological Tower, a two-story structure positioned on the roof of the Operation Building. Our servicemen observed the unfolding December 7, 1941 attack from this very structure. Adjacent to the Operations Building, a water tower that would later support the new flight operations control cab stood unscathed. Opened in April 1942, the new control cab and tower, painted red and white, remains the most iconic Pearl Harbor visual, appearing in many historic photos and films such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and Pearl Harbor.


We have made outstanding progress in restoring the Tower and with your help, we can complete this vital mission. Here’s a timeline of the Tower restoration and preservation:

Phase 1 – 2012: Completed stabilization of the Control Tower, with federal and private support. 53,000 tons of steel were replaced to suspend corrosion, ensure structural integrity, and prevent further deterioration.

Phase 2 – 2016: Completed restoration of the two-story Aerological Tower, which was the field control tower on December 7, 1941. The exhibits provide a glimpse into flight operations dating back to the 1940s. The restoration was made possible by state and private support.

Phase 3 – Today: Restoration of portions of the Operations Building’s first floor is underway, developing a public library, and other multi-purpose spaces.

Goal: Repair the Historic Elevator

Today, the vision is to open the historic Ford Island Control Tower to the public. Getting to the upper control cab, viewing all of Pearl Harbor, requires the repair of the elevator. Once the elevator and associated renovations are completed, visitors will be able to ascend to the top of this iconic structure to experience with their own eyes the spectacular “Freedom’s View” of Pearl Harbor.

For years, tens of thousands of visitors have stopped in front of this historic structure asking for the opportunity to enter, to ascend to the upper control cab, and to view all of Pearl Harbor from this vantage point. Aerial footage of the attack exists that can provide visitors with a very clear understanding of the flight path of attacking aircraft, highlighting targets as well as missed opportunities. A docent-guided experience will immerse visitors into the history of Ford Island and Pearl Harbor.

We must ensure that this beacon of freedom not only remains but also continues to provide a unique historical view of the attack and the response that changed our nation and our world.

Your Support Is Needed

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is indeed an American WWII battlefield, the only WWII battlefield in our country with a historic control tower, hangars and artifacts that withstood the attack and catapulted our nation into this global conflict. It is imperative that the buildings and stories of our past are preserved and shared with all who follow in hopes of inspiring a brighter future! Donations to this restoration project have never been more powerful.

Help us match a $250,000 challenge grant from the State of Hawaii that will restore operation of the historic elevator, extending access to the upper control cab to veterans and the public. We are almost there!

Here’s what you’ll receive when you donate:

The Ford Island Control Tower stands for the legacy of “Our Greatest Generation.” Help us ensure that this legacy endures.

Questions? Please email