Pearl Harbor’s Historic Runway to be Covered with Solar Panels

Pearl Harbor’s Historic Runway to be Covered with Solar Panels

We recently learned of the U.S. Navy’s plan to cover Ford Runway with solar panels and surround it with a 7-foot-high-fence. Please read the position paper from the indepently operated Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor and, if you agree with us, I hope you’ll add your voice to the outcry by signing the petition here.

Ford Island is the only aviation battlefield in America.  It was attacked on December 7, 1941 by the Imperial Japanese Navy forces, an act that brought America into World War II.  The Ford Island Runway and the iconic red & white Control Tower, as seen in the movie Pearl Harbor, survived that date which lives in infamy, and was designated as National Historic Landmarks in 1964.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Ford Island one of 11 “Most Endangered Historic Places” in 2001. The US Navy now wants to cover the 300 foot x 4,000 foot runway with 60,000 black photo voltaic panels and surround this historic space with a 7 foot fence.  Established in 1919 as the Army’s Luke Field, this was one of the first military air fields, it is where Amelia Earhart made first attempt at flying around the world in 1937, and it is where American’s died on December 7th. This is hallowed ground. Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor has asked the Navy to put the project further west off Ford Island in order to preserve this scared and sacred space.  The Navy is moving forward with their project, ignoring the historic nature of Ford Island.  Help preserve this American Battlefield with your vote to stop this atrocity.  Tell the Navy to put the panels on ground that isn’t stained by the blood of Americans.   -Ken DeHoff

Petition paper from the Pacific Aviation Museum:

Ford Island, in the heart of Pearl Harbor, is a site that many have likened to Gettysburg, Valley Forge, and the Alamo.  The 4,000’ runway, part of Naval Air Station Ford Island from 1921 to 1961, has long been on the National Register of Historic Places.

The U.S. Navy is now proposing to cover the runway and adjoining land (a total of 28 acres) with 60,000 photovoltaic panels in a move that will permanently convert the nature and appearance of this hallowed ground to an industrial project.  In addition to the panels, the project will require numerous “inverter stations” between the former runway and ramp area and the entire photovoltaic panel area will be surrounded by a black chain-link fence.

The 2007 National Defense Authorization Act requires the U.S. Navy to obtain 25% of its electric power from renewable sources by 2025.  After receiving 13 responses to undertake $500 million worth of solar power systems in Hawaii, three companies were selected (Photon Finance LLC, Island Pacific Energy LLC, and Pacific Energy Solutions LLC).  The Navy is in the process of issuing “task orders” to design, construct, own, operate, and maintain the solar power systems; Task Order #2 has apparently been issued for Ford Island.  No public hearing has been held nor, apparently, is any contemplated before construction commences.

On December 7, 2006, Pacific Aviation Museum opened in the first of three hangars which survived the attack on Pearl Harbor; to date the museum has welcomed more than 800,000 visitors.  The museum’s mission is to educate young and old alike, honor aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in the Pacific region, and preserve Pacific region aviation artifacts.  The museum feels that the Ford Island runway is one such artifact.

At its meeting on July 19, 2012, PAM’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose the Navy’s plans to cover the runway and adjoining land with photovoltaic cells.  This decision was not taken lightly in view of the fact that the U.S. Navy is PAM’s landlord.  In communicating its position to the Navy, the museum stated “the size and prominence of this project would violate this hallowed ground….while we are in total support of developing renewable energy sources and making “green power” available, we encourage the Navy to find another location for such a project that does not have a negative impact on the rich history of the current proposed site.”  The museum has encouraged the Navy to accelerate preferable sites on far larger tracts of Navy land at Waipio Peninsula and/or the Pearl Harbor West Loch blast zone.

In summary, Pacific Aviation  Museum is currently the lone voice in opposition to this initiative.  This project is not at all in keeping with the significance of the historic Pearl Harbor battlefield.  We ask the reader to consider the hue and cry should a 60,000 panel photovoltaic project be located at Gettysburg or Valley Forge.

This position paper was prepared by and reflects views of Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.        August 10, 2012


Updated: September 13, 2012 — 8:50 AM


  1. Another atrocity undertaken by the current administration … wonder if these companies were recipients of Obama-bucks?

    1. Wrong president … if you bothered reading the article

  2. I say go for it. 1 less war fought over oil.


  3. No. There has to be some middle ground where the historic site can be preserved and a solar panel source can be built. Does it have to be built on the runway and on the site where so many people died fighting for this country? The entire Pearl Harbor area, Hickam Field and Ford Island, should be preserved as a historic battleground. There are all kinds of places in the area where a solar panel project could be built.

  4. I’m a Canadian, however, as a person who believes that history should be rembered and preserved, it seems that this idea is horribly wrong. If, as is stated, the Ford Island airfield is on the register of National Historic Sites, how can this be allowed to happen. Why then, not surround the Statue of Liberty with wind turbines, or plaster advertising all over Mount Rushmore? Certainly, renewable energy sources are in the best interest of society, but not at the expense of a site as special and sacred as this.

  5. I support the use of solar but to cover a location on the national registry is wrong. (By the way keep politics out of this. This decision came from the pentagon. And the directive was enacted by the last president.) Get the facts and stick to the subject at hand.

    1. Well said. Please, if you’re against this, sign the petition and let your friends know. The petition went up earlier this week and it only has 200 signatures so far … we need to let people know about this before it’s too late!

  6. Paul had it right, stick a big wind turbine shaped like a carnival pinwheel in Lady Liberty’s hand.

  7. I was born a and raised in Hawaii. My father worked for Pan American Airways (PAA) when they were operating flying boats out of Pear Harbor. We lived in Pearl City just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Six months before the attack PAA moved the family to mainland. My father remained in Hawaii and survived the attack on PH. After the War we went back to Hawaii and as a preteen I saw the results of the attack. It is sacrilegious to build the solar panels farm on the Ford Island runway as its “Hollow Ground” where our servicemen died. We need to take lessons fm the Civil War group that prevented Wal Mart from building a store near the Manassas battle ground. I survived the Army during Vietnam and today we have a bunch of girly officers or what we used to call “Garrett Troopers” (never been in combat) running the Pentagon. They have no Brass ones like Admiral Nimitiz, Gen Patton, and Gen Curtis Le May. I now live in the DC area and I’m going to contact my local Congressman as they control the purse strings, Do the same. Kalani

  8. My father was stationed on Ford. On December 7th he went out into the bay in a small ship to shore launch and pulled many men from the burning oil covered water while being straffed. Then dove in the water through a hole in the side of a sinking vessel to save even more men. All while next to the Nevada which was only one ship away from the Arizona. Get the idea? He was in the heat of it. Years later I at last retraced my fathers footsteps at Pearl. Unfortunately not before my fathers passing. I am posting all this simply to say WE OWE EVERYTHING TO THE GREATEST GENERATION!!!!! REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR. (THE BEST WAY TO REMEMBER IS TO NOT ERASE IT FROM WHERE IT IS)

  9. Too often the younger generation is losing touch with what has made this nation what it is today. The USA and sites like this field are filled with sacred relics where many gave their lives so that we could have what we have today – freedom and security. There are forces at work that do not want the USA to be above average – to be more than a third-worldy country. Some of those forces would have us believer that we ought to apologize to our enemies – enemies of the world – and let go of our freedoms. This is NOT acceptable to me and others who served in the armed forces at some time. Do not allow this to happen. It is a sacrilege.

  10. It’s to bad the Navy or anyone else puts oil ahead of American
    Blood. The people who died on this land are American Heros.
    Treat this land as such.

  11. This should be the last location to be considered for solar panels. Has the government lost all consideration for the history of WW2 in the name of alternate energy? There are many, many other locations n Hawaii for erecting these panels and I am sure that a WW2 Veterans committee would be more than happy to point these locations out to the government persons responsible for selecting Ford Island.

  12. Wonder Wonder
    Solar enegry is sigmatized as is do’nt shoot your foot of old veterans, solar power is used in the most powerful military
    systems in our service our satilites and has been for since
    1975 we depend on it.

    Mann Ed

  13. I would like to sign the petition, but cannot find the link to it ….could you advise?

  14. i think sometimes we ignore practicality and forget the important things like technology and non-renewable fossil fuels when the developement of energy saving resources cuts into something of a historical nature. come on people, the one thing that history should have taught us by now is that we are too obsessed with history and nostalgia. there is a fine line with that and it’s been crossed to death. we need to focus on the future as a positive instead of dwelling on all in the past that was so negative. have your memorials and so on, but make room for the new. i am willing to bet that those who fought and died would say the same thing. always remember the history, but focus on the present and future. solar power is a sleeping giant that just needs to be used and developed more in the world, especially if you have the sun to power it.

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