Summer 2018 has been busy and moved by quickly. All the summer events were successfully completed. The monthly speakers luncheon series continues to grow. Volunteer research turned up an historic icon in the bush – literally. The mid-year fundraising appeal wrapped up. After nearly one and a half years of due diligence, a decision has been made on the purchase of land located south of Oak Harbor. And, our new website is ready for launch.

From late June through early September we continued taking the story of Naval Aviation in the Northwest to eight venues throughout the area. While these events offer “marketing” opportunities to promote the museum and Oak Harbor/Whidbey Island, their most vital function is providing teaching moments when thousands of people see real tangible historical objects such as a flying PBY and various artifacts that we take to different events as well as our replica Nimitz class aircraft carrier. Over the course of the summer more than 400,000 people attended, events such as Boeing’s Seafair Airshow in Seattle, where the PBY-Naval Air Museum presented naval aviation history.

With John Hughes’ strong leadership, the monthly speakers luncheon series has become a true platform for disseminating and learning history. Speaker topics have included personal accounts of a shoot down and rescue in Vietnam and a P2V crash, several authors discussing their books on naval aviation, and the historical development of Naval Base Kitsap down the Sound from Whidbey Island.

Historical research often leads to the unexpected. While researching material for an exhibit about Navy housing on Whidbey Island, MCPO (Ret.) Richard Johnson became intrigued with “Homoja Huts”. Dick tells you “the rest of the story” in a separate Cat Chat article. My point here is that preserving and restoring an iconic piece of history such as this Homoja Hut is exactly what our museum is all about. Our challenge is that, without money in our 2018 budget, we had to go to the local community for assistance. The response has been heartwarming. As we work to reduce the cost with services being offered to help with the move, individuals and businesses are chipping in with donations to Save the Hut. Next Cat Chat will have a grand success story to tell you including a long list of good Samaritans.

The 2018 Mid-Year Fundraising campaign closed out at about $23,000, with some donations still trickling in, but far short of the $36,000 goal. The shortfall does not threaten daily operation of the museum, but it will limit expansion of some of our education initiatives and our ability to take advantage of opportunities like the Homoja Hut project.

Looking to the long-term future, our efforts to acquire land south of Oak Harbor have ended in disappointment. In early September we made on offer to the owners that we believe was fair based on what our due diligence had revealed about the property. Their counteroffer price is so high that our Board of Trustees concluded that there is nothing to be gained by further negotiations. The Trustees believe that it is more prudent to conserve the funds in our Capital Improvement account than to continue pursuit of this property. We have withdrawn our offer and the Capital Improvement Task Force will resume its review of other prospective building sites for a new museum.

On a more upbeat note, work on a new website nears a conclusion as this article is being penned. Finishing touches and editing are in progress. The website should be up and running by the time you receive your copy of Cat Chat. If you have not visited the site yet (, I recommend that you do. We would love to receive your feedback.

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