The Yakutat History Foundation formed in 2009, with the initial goal of creating a museum to document, display and educate the public about Alaska’s efforts during WWII. Focusing on the importance of aviation to the war effort and the changes aviation made to previously inaccessible areas of Alaska, the Foundation and museum will be housed in one of the first hangars built in Alaska before World War II and one of the few that still remain in operation. We are uniquely placed to recreate the 1940’s as they would have felt to residents and servicemen. We will also be continuing the heritage of the Army and war effort by dedicating our efforts to the preservation and use of aircraft from the war era.
Construction began on the Yakutat Air Base in October 1940 with the first bomber landing in May of 1941. Since this was a full 7 months before the Pearl Harbor attack that brought the United States into WWII, Yakutat was on the leading edge of America’s war effort. Still an active airport today, the old Yakutat Army Air Base is an ideal location for a WWII focused museum. The original USAAF hangar is undergoing extensive renovations, in part to house the museum. Our initial primary focus will be as a warbird museum, collecting, restoring and displaying the aircraft that helped the Allies turn the tide and win this global conflict. Yakutat’s role in supporting the war effort featured several bomber and fighter squadrons stationed here, a contingent of Navy bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, artillery gun emplacements and various other activities. The Yakutat Air Base operated as a vital landing and refueling site for the Lend-Lease program later in the war.
As a primary ambition for the Alaska Warbird Museum, we will focus on restoring and displaying warbirds in flying condition. This will be a “working museum”, where we will actively keep these aircraft in action for many of their original intended purposes whenever possible. Aspects of our museum will be as follows:
In the future as finances allow, the museum will expand its scope beyond the aircraft to educate on all aspects of the war effort and its effect on Alaska, America and the world. We will recreate examples of period appropriate bridges across the stream behind the hangar building, Quonset huts, and the “Yakutat Hut” (a 16’x16’ wood structure named after the base it was first created yet built all across the globe”.
The Yakutat History Foundation will expand to include other areas of focus beyond WWII, by supporting efforts to create other museums of interest. The Alaska Warbird Museum is our first of hopefully many projects.
Yakutat History Foundation - President