Pacific Aviation Museum Uses Mobile Fans on Wheels to Move Comfort Around
Honolulu, HI

Case Study: Big Ass Airflow at Pacific Aviation Museum

You couldn’t get AirGo and Black Jack out of that hangar if you tried — our restoration guys would stop you. They love those fans. Ken Dehoff, Executive Director

The Gist


Hawaii’s energy costs were wreaking havoc on the Pacific Aviation Museum’s pocketbook. With expensive insulation and A/C improvements out of the question, the museum needed outside-the-box alternatives.


Two Powerfoil X2.0 fans were installed in the facility’s museum hangar. In the restoration hangar, an AirGo and a Black Jack keep the aircraft restoration crew cool.


The cooling effect created by the fans has allowed the museum to rely less on its A/C to keep patrons cool. This and other energy-saving measures has resulted in a 70% reduction in energy costs.

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Cooling Guests, Indoors and Out

The Pacific Aviation Museum is a sprawling tribute to the history of military aviation. However, this Honolulu museum struggled under the burden of soaring energy costs during the last recession. With A/C being a necessity, the museum routinely spent $40,000 every month on its energy bills. As part of a concerted effort to lower its energy costs, the Pacific Aviation Museum installed Big Ass Fans. Along with enacting other green and energy-efficient measures, the museum slashed its bills and ensured financial security.

A Need to Conserve

Located on Ford Island in historic Pearl Harbor, the Pacific Aviation Museum began as an Army Air Corps airfield in 1916. According to Ken Dehoff, the executive director of the museum, “This is where aviation really began in Hawaii.”

Now owned by the Navy, the museum leases two hangars, one of which was built in 1926. These massive spaces — 46,000 and 42,000 square feet, respectively — house the museum’s exhibits and its collection of restored aircraft. And while its location on Ford Island boosts its visitor count, having to buy power from the Navy was a drag on its pocketbook.

“We opened in 2006, and by 2009 I was paying four times as much for power,” said Dehoff. “We were spending $40,000 a month for our power.”

Dehoff began to look for ways to reduce the museum’s power usage. Dehoff installed photovoltaic (solar) cells at the facility, then began to look for ways to lower reliance on A/C. Dehoff remarked, “Hangars aren’t exactly the most sealable environment. You can’t really insulate them. I knew that we’d have to think outside the box to lower that cost.”

Fans at the Museum

Big Ass Fans parachuted in with two Powerfoil®X2.0 fans, the dynamic AirGo® fan and the ultra-portable Black Jack®. The Powerfoil fans were deployed in the main museum hangar, where they’ve been keeping the museum’s 250,000 annual visitors protected from the Hawaiian heat. Because they generate a 10°F (6°C) cooling effect, Dehoff can leave his thermostat setpoint several degrees higher. This allows the A/C to run less frequently, resulting in a drastic reduction in energy use. All told, the museum’s power bill has plummeted to just $12,000, a 70 percent reduction in energy cost, since the installation of Big Ass Fans and other energy-saving measures.

The AirGo and Black Jack provide cooling breezes in the museum’s second hangar, where the museum’s restoration team stores, repairs and revitalizes vintage aircraft. According to Dehoff, the portable fans allow technicians to bring airflow around, under, and even inside the aircraft being worked on.

Airshows Need Airflow

The AirGo and the Black Jack not only provide mobile heat-beating power in the aircraft restoration hangar; they also taxi onto the tarmac during the museum’s outdoor events for spot cooling. At the museum’s Biggest Little Airshow in Hawaii, more than 15,000 people attended without breaking a sweat. “We put the AirGo and Black Jack in front of a Douglas C-47, and it looked like the wind was coming off of the engines!” said Dehoff. “People love to stand in front of them and cool off.”

Big Fans, Big Payoff

The results of Dehoff’s Big Ass energy intervention speak for themselves: a 70 percent reduction in monthly energy costs over the last decade. Spot cooling and powerful overhead fans have been a difference maker, according to Dehoff. Despite the exorbitant energy costs of its island location, the energy-efficient cooling ability of Big Ass Fans will help the Pacific Aviation Museum offer its high-octane mixture of history and entertainment to Honolulu for decades to come.

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