Brad Hayes is a person that is about to lose everything for something he loves to do.
I called on him at his home on Wednesday, November 20th, asking him to comment and tell me his side of the story. The story is one you may have heard of – the eviction of the Naval Air Museum Barbers Point by the State of Hawaii Dept. of Transportation, Airports Division.
It had already made the news, and for the most part it sounded like a tale of a museum, due to issues between it and the Airports Division, received an eviction notice to leave the premises. Brad was already working from home trying to figure out what to do with all of the vintage planes on the tarmac, still at John Rodgers Field (the official name of Kalaeloa Airport, former Barbers Point Airfield), and trying to figure out how to counter the eviction notice.
None of this was good for a person who has prior health issues, adding a strain to his heart with the possible obliteration of something he put his whole life into.
You could tell that just in his voice.
THE MUSEUM has been out at the tarmac of John Rodgers Field for about 20 years. At first it was a labor of love to keep planes, abandoned by the Navy when they left Barbers Point in July 1999, in display shape. According to reports, Brad and his partners took these planes, put them on display and started a nonprofit to start and build a museum dedicated to displaying airplanes that flew from the base.
Brad eventually became the Director of what is now the Naval Air Museum Barbers Point (NAMBP).
The mission of the museum soon emerged from this labor of love: to preserve the past and teach the history of this special geographical area. To that end, they collected more aircraft and items that have a connection to the Naval Air Station, Marine Corps Air Station and Coast Guard Air Station at Barbers Point.
With this, more donated planes that had a touch with the area flew in. Eventually it would have a collection as diverse as a DC-8-62 passenger plane from Air Transport International to P-3 A’s and C’s which flew out of the base on patrols.
If you go out there and look at the collection, you would swear it modeled just like Jay Leno’s Garage. Just like how Jay knows the background of every car he has, Brad and his crew can tell you all about the stories of the individual planes on the tarmac.
In many cases, they are fascinating tales.
Despite the fact that the museum was not on the tour bus routes, which bring tourists to other museums like the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum at Ford Island (its mission is different and therefore not compatible for a partnership), it continued to plod along, with donations from veterans and the goodwill of the Airports Division.
And all seemed to be okay, until recently.
WHEN YOU HEAR THE STORY from Brad, you hear a story of a museum that never knew what the Airports Division wanted to do with them. For years they have worked off a month-to-month lease.
Meanwhile, on other parts of the tarmac, the Airports Division would at times allow those who wanted to make part of the field into a Grand Prix type course to promote the ideas, only to have it die on the vine. The museum even went in on its own dime to clear out the barricades the Grand Prix organizers abandoned, with their own forklift, in order to make the field usable again for aircraft movements.
This arrangement seemed counter to what the Airports Division are telling the public, that they were going to move the museum to a more permanent spot at a future date. One can surmise that the lease arrangement was done as a stop-gap until negotiations concluded and the move occurred.
But from Brad’s perspective, there was only one episode where the Airports Division addressed the move. That was when they and museum representatives went to an area that was slated for use instead by the Hawaii Army National Guard (HI ARNG) for its maintenance base. How both entities could occupy the same space, according to Brad, was never addressed.
So then, things, it seems, went into limbo. The maintenance facility was built and now is in use by the HI ARNG. The assumption that the museum would still be moved, someday, with a long-term lease attached.
But then nothing more was said.
CITING LACK OF INSURANCE and environmental violations, a letter arrived on September 17th telling the museum that the lease was being cancelled, and they are to be evicted. Even with a meeting at the Dept. of Transportation on November 12th, the order stood for the museum to get out.
Furthermore, according to reports and Brad, the Airports Division added that if the planes were not taken off the lot, that they would move ahead to dispose of them. Just in the last couple of days, the State Procurement Office started sending out documents to effectuate that.
From Brad’s point of view, the violations that the Airports Division cited the museum over were either remedied, or addressed when they first came up. In the case of the museum’s insurance, the Airports Division cited they didn’t file the insurance with the Division. However, from Brad, he shows me that his partners transmitted the documents even before the eviction notice was sent.
“They said they misplaced the documents”, Brad told me.
ONE THING IS FOR SURE from Brad’s take is that something is afoot, and that the Airports Division is not saying exactly what it has in mind. According to Brad, the plan that is currently on its website, citing that the museum would be moved, is from 2012 or 2013. As far as Brad knows, it has not been updated.
Since the notice of eviction was affirmed in November. Brad and his supporters have been on the move. From setting up a GoFundMe page to solicit money for lawyers to fight the eviction, to letters being sent to lawmakers both in Hawaii and Washington D.C., Brad is not going to give up, not without a fight.
Along with this, a growing list of publications have been coming out with articles describing the situation. This amplification of the clarion call first put out by Brad has reached many parts of the continent, and individuals who represent Hawaii in Congress. The final story of whether any of this will help change the outcome, remains to be written.
Meanwhile Brad continues to put the word out, responding to inquiries about this situation (he has been quite cooperative on answering questions for this report) and fighting the battle. He may very well lose everything at the end of this war. But as a warrior, he is not going down without a fight.
Stay tuned for Part II of “A Tale of an Eviction” where we examine the Dept. of Transportation’s position, and behaviour