Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Military Aviation Museum’s new director envisions bigger and better at Virginia Beach attraction

Jarod Hoogland, new director at the Military Aviation Museum, stands next to one of two airplanes that can be rented for soaring flights above Pungo and beyond. 

In Alaska where he grew up, Jarod Hoogland knew firsthand the importance of airplanes, especially the many bush float planes that help people get from place to place.

It’s a culture that led him to his career path, not as a pilot, but first as a staff member and then as director of the Alaska Aviation Museum for two years.

“The stories and histories of the brave men and women who pioneered the skies is addicting and I was hooked,” said Hoogland.

“At the Alaska Aviation Museum, we showed numerous golden-age Alaska bush planes, many of which are famous in their own right within the state.”

In June, Hoogland journeyed to Virginia Beach to become museum director at the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo. He calls the new position an opportunity too good to pass up.

“Many of the processes and strategies I utilized to good effect in Alaska are directly relatable here, but I expect on a much larger scale, given the magnitude of the possibilities at this museum,” he said.

Hoogland, who has degrees in history, economics and business administration, wants to take a long-view approach to the museum’s future, hoping to build a sustainable business model that “allows the museum to keep flying and sharing these histories.”

In 2018, the biggest change will be how exhibits are done. Hoogland wants to showcase exhibits that explore deeper human stories, and to include more interactive, behind-the-aircraft features and details that will appeal to a wider audience.

To kick this all off, 2018 will spotlight a transformation of the museum’s main hangar to tell a variety of World War I stories. A special treat will be the display of the “Snoopy and the Red Baron Exhibit” from the Charles Schulz Museum, culminating with a World War I airshow. Partnerships with other area museums are also in the works.

“I also want the museum to become better partners with our community, in particular businesses and organizations that support the Hampton Roads region,” Hoogland said.

What is your favorite plane at the museum? 
The PBY Catalina, and luckily I did ride in it. This aircraft (an “American flying boat” and amphibious aircraft from the 1930s-‘40s) has a long history in Alaska, both during the war and after – it’s more like a boat than an airplane, so as a passenger my view was mostly metal.

What is your favorite corner at the museum?
Tucked back into the corner of the Army hangar is a Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter plane. The story of this aircraft reveals an element of WWII that many might not know – while the United States was building its own fleet, we were also building and shipping aircraft to the USSR to fight Germany on the eastern front. This is why guests will see an American aircraft with Soviet markings.

What prepared you for your new job? 
The experience I gained as director of the Alaska Aviation Museum is most directly relevant, but a lot of what I do is problem solving, and the preparation for that goes back much further. Back in college, I was a member of the debate team for the University of Alaska in Anchorage. The coach there was Steve Johnson, who excelled at teaching critical thinking. Essentially, I was taught not only how to think through a problem, but around a problem.

If you could be a vintage plane, what would it be? 

The PBY because with both wheels and hull, I could go on adventures anywhere and everywhere.


Name: Jarod Thomas Hoogland

Neighborhood: Hilltop

Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska

Marital status: Married, Julie, five years

Occupation: Museum director, Military Aviation Museum in Pungo

Education: Bachelor’s degrees in history and economics; master’s in business administration from the University of Alaska in Anchorage

If you go...

What: Military Aviation Museum, 1341 Princess Anne Road, Pungo area of Virginia Beach.

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily


Details: The 65,000-square-foot museum sits on 100 acres with a 5,000-foot grass runway; it has six full-time and six part-time staff and more than 200 volunteers. There are four exhibit hangars, two historic buildings and the Fighter Factory maintenance hangar - More than 70 vintage airplanes are on display, along with other related memorabilia. Jerrassic Park, a fun collection of oversize metal dinosaurs, is located at the entrance to the museum.

New stuff: The museum recently welcomed three new World War I-era aircraft: A DR1, SE5 and a Sopwith triplane.

Upcoming events: On Sept. 23, Wings & Wheels Car Show with Tidewater Region Antique Automobile Club of America; Oct. 7-8, and Biplanes and Triplanes Airshow with World War II planes soaring, food trucks, live entertainment - tickets and details at

Original article ➤

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