What is it: A collection of memorabilia and more tracing naval aviation history from World War II to today. There are more than 2,500 square feet of display space in 11 rooms. The center focuses on the service record of the PBY Catalina, the Consolidated twin-engine long-range flying boat patrol bomber that gained fame during World War II.
What you’ll see: Among the items on display are a PBY nose turret, a Catalina engine, a PBY wing, vintage air crew clothing and a Christmas card postmarked Dec. 6, 1941. Sent from the battleship USS Utah, it is one of the last pieces of mail to leave the ship before it was attacked and sunk at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. There also are models of every aircraft ever flown out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island since the base opened in 1942.
Other stops: The center’s library includes historical books, documents and photos that are available for viewing. The gift shop sells items including T-shirts, hats, pins, books, videos, model kits and postcards. The USO Canteen features a 1940 Wurlitzer jukebox and 1930 Sparton radio. You can try flying a PBY on the computer flight simulator.
Hours: Open Wednesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: NAS Whidbey Island Seaplane Base, Simard Hall Building 12, 315 W. Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor. Visitors to the center should enter via the Torpedo Road Gate on Crescent Harbor Road, according to the center’s website. Tell the guards that you are going to the Naval History Center at Building 12. You will need to show photo identification, car registration and insurance papers.
PBY Memorial Foundation: Established Sept. 22, 1998, and is dedicated to preservating Naval aviation history, the PBY Catalina and the Seaplane Base at Oak Harbor.
Info: 360-240-9500, pbymf.org
Jeffrey P. Mayor, email@example.com