What is the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum?

Located just a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum is an amazing place to visit to learn about the rich Naval history of the beautiful  Pacific Northwest. Currently located in Oak Harbor, near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (which has been an active military base since World War II), the museum features interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, a pair of flight simulators and more. It is the perfect destination for children, families, veterans, and everyone in between!

The Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum (PNWNAM) will be moving to a new permanent home at the end of 2024. This new facility will feature a larger space for new exhibitions, interactive displays, a large auditorium, activities rooms and more. Be sure to visit this site often for news and updates on the New Museum!

Our Mission

The inspiration for the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum began in the late 1990s, as a way to help preserve the legacy and contributions of those who served their country during one of our nation’s darkest hours. Formed by a group of former servicemen and their spouses, the original vision was to commemorate the important role the PBY played in protecting the Pacific Coast during WWII.

Since that time, the museum has been devoted to the preservation of Naval Aviation heritage on Whidbey Island, and to the military culture that has inhabited this island for generations. The Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum is devoted to ensuring the legacy of these brave aviators is never forgotten.

Come See Our Museum!

On your next visit to the Pacific Northwest, be sure to visit Whidbey Island to see the exciting air displays which are part of the everyday US Navy Aviation training routine. Have you seen the BOEING EA-18G Growler, as it streaks across the sky in daily pursuit training? Or perhaps you will be lucky enough to see the last of the Lockheed P3 Orions, with its 4 engine turbo props, surveying the landscape as it seemingly soars just above the treetops. Learn about the history of these and other Navy aircraft at the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum, in Oak Harbor.

Discover the culture of the Navy airman during WWII, or hear about life at sea on a carrier during Desert Storm. What was it like to fly the Grumman A-6 Intruder at night? Learn about the role of the “tailhook” for landing on a carrier. Would you like to fly? A pair of flight simulators give you the chance to control the throttle of an aircraft without the G Forces. Try your hand in a World War II-era amphibious prop plane, or in a variety of modern-day fighter jets. Perhaps you have always wanted to fly a helicopter. There are so many options for the experienced or novice pilot to explore*.

*Ages 10 and up

For a different experience, step into the Night Vision Room. There you can try on the type of night vision goggles used by the Navy, Air Force and Marines for special missions.

In addition to the artifacts from World War II, the museum exhibits stories from the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, as well as other military engagements. Whidbey Island has been a key part of this country’s military history for over 80 years.

The museum gift shop offers clothing, hats, books, and many other items that will not only help you remember your visit here but will also help support the mission of the museum for years to come. Naval Air mementos are also available to purchase from our online store. Those enrolled in the PNWNAM’s Membership program receive a discount on every purchase at the store. Consider the airship enthusiast in your life!

About the PBY-5A Catalina

A WWII PBY-5A Catalina airplane is on display, just across the street from the museum. This “flying boat” would have been a common sight in Oak Harbor and throughout the Pacific Northwest during that time, patrolling the waters for surprise submarine attacks. Learn more about the history of this patrol bomber, and some of the missions its sailors experienced. The museum also features the nose gun turret from this aircraft for closer inspection. Climb inside and experience the feeling of scanning the skies for enemy aircraft!

Photo courtesy of Soaring by the Sea

Where to Find Us When Visiting from Seattle

Seattle area residents wishing to visit the museum have several options. The easiest way to reach Oak Harbor is by traveling north on I-5 and then turning west on State Route 20. Turn left on Pioneer Avenue and you will find us on your right.

If you’d like to see more of the island attractions on your drive, take Washington State ferry to Clinton in the southeast. It is approximately a 35-minute drive to Oak Harbor.

Ways to Help Us with Our Mission

If you would like to help us in our mission to preserve the rich Naval history of the Pacific Northwest for generations to come, consider becoming a volunteer!

There are several volunteer positions available depending on your interests and skills. Some of the possible options are working in Collections, Aircraft Restoration, providing tours of our museum and aircraft, working in the gift shop, or helping to file paperwork on the administrative side. If you are unsure of where you might best fit, please speak with our volunteer coordinator for more information. No matter what you’re comfortable doing, if you’d like to volunteer, we’d love to have you!

Please consider making a donation to the museum. Financial contributions will help us support the museum’s mission, and will ensure the story of aviators in the Pacific Northwest will be told. The museum is always open to collaborations and welcomes new business partners for events and at home.

Donations of artifacts are also welcome, and are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact info@pnwnam.org for more information.

Membership

Another way that you can support our mission is by becoming a member. For only a small annual fee or a one-time purchase of a lifetime membership, you can not only help us to remain open in the present but can also make sure that these great historical artifacts and wonderful experiences continue to be available for many years to come. Click here to find out more!

Future Expansion

Construction is underway on the new home for the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum. If all proceeds as planned, the anticipated new opening is slated for November, 2024. New exhibits are being designed, and stories are being written. Please check back regularly for updates and news about the Grand Opening! Learn all about it here in our blog.

Whether you’re a visitor to the Pacific Northwest or have lived here for years, we invite you to visit the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum in Oak Harbor, Washington. There is much to learn about the history and heritage of Naval Aviation in this region. We look forward to welcoming you on your next visit to Oak Harbor on beautiful Whidbey Island!