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Elevator restoration promises ride to top of iconic Pearl Harbor tower

Ford Island Tower, Pearl Harbor. Construction of the 158-foot control tower completed in 1942. (Bernard Spragg/Flickr)

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum has raised the needed $700,000 to repair the elevator in the Ford Island Control Tower, which stood partially constructed during the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack by the Japanese.

The 168-foot tower, unscathed during the attack, was completed in 1942.

The goal is to have the iconic tower’s elevator working and open to visitors by September 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, said Elissa Lines, executive director of the museum.

From that 360-degree view, visitors will be able to gaze upon Pearl Harbor — where Japanese planes decimated Battleship Row — as well as the USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial.

The museum has dubbed this view of historic sites from the tower’s upper control cab as “Freedom’s View,” Lines said.

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“At this point, we have raised the funds required to complete the elevator repair,” she said. “We are in the process of working with the Navy to review our plans to ensure compliance with all regulations.”

Funds were received from the state of Hawaii and private donors. The fundraising goal was met last week when U-Haul announced a significant donation during the 77th anniversary of the attack on Dec. 7. The amount of that donation was not disclosed.

“We are grateful to U-Haul for taking us to the top,” Lines said.

During the 1941 attack, flight-control operations at Naval Air Station Ford Island were conducted from the two-story aerological tower on the roof of the operations building, adjacent to the 168-foot Ford Island Control Tower then under construction.

The aerological tower was built in 1941 and designed to gauge wind direction and weather. It was designated a national historic landmark in 1962.

Ford Island Control Tower would later support flight-control operations for the airfield.

Both towers appeared in the Hollywood films “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and “Pearl Harbor,” although the taller one is mistakenly depicted as built and operational on the date of the attack.

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Work on stabilizing and restoring the Ford Island Control Tower began in 2010. Weather and time had badly corroded the structure, and 53 tons of steel were replaced, Lines said.

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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