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70h Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Midway To Feature Symposium and New “Midway” Exhibit

To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway, which decisively and dramatically changed the course of the war in the Pacific, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is featuring a Midway Symposium Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3, 9am to 5pm. The symposium is included with Museum admission, free to Museum members, and open to the public.

Karl Lau, Designer of the diorma “The Battle of Midway”

Additionally, on Saturday, June 2, the Museum will unveil its new 40-ft diorama of “The Battle of Midway” being built in Glenview, Illinois by designer Karl Lau of On Final Approach. The 10-ft. high, three-dimensional scene recreates the ocean battle between the Japanese and American fleets. Recorded interviews of Japanese and American soldiers who participated in the battle provide narration to the moving diorama, along with sounds of aircraft diving, bombs and gunfire.

Mr. Lau, 86, was a U.S. Navy pilot for the 94th Squadron in 1944~1946, and lost eight of his 10 crew members in the Battle of Okinawa, the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of WWII.  “I did this project because no one before had done justice to Midway. It was a turning point in the war. If this diorama doesn’t bring a tear to the eye, then we’ve lost the reason to build it,” Mr. Lau said.

Museum Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff explains its importance as, “This exhibit is truly a piece of art built to inspire. It will be the cornerstone of our Hangar 79 Midway exhibit as we begin the fundraising campaign to restore this second battle scarred hangar.”  Hangar 79 still has visible in its leaded blue windows, the bullet holes from the December 7, 1941 attack.


  • June 2, 3 –The Battle of Midway Commemoration
  • Symposium, 9am ~ 5pm, Saturday and 9am ~ 4:30pm, Sunday.

Saturday speakers include Captain James Fanell, John Lundstrom, Burl Burlingame, Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, and Mike Jones.  The Moderator will be Daniel Martinez.


  • Saturday, 1pm is General Gary L. North, Commander, Pacific Air Forces; Air Component Commander for U.S. Pacific Command; and Executive Director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
  • Sunday speakers include Stan Carpenter, Daniel Martinez, John DiVirgilio, Karl Lau, and a panel of speakers from Saturday’s event. The Moderator will be Daniel Martinez.

“Battle of Midway” – New Exhibit Opening & Cocktail Reception, Saturday, 5~7pm, Museum Hangar 79. The Museum’s new interactive diorama will be dedicated to exhibit sponsor and donor Fred L. Turner, former chairman & CEO of McDonald’s Corporation.

Museum & Exhibit Opening, reservations are required by May 21 and seating is limited. Reservations and information, call 808/441-1007 or email SpecialEvents@PacificAviationMuseum.org. Reservations are required to drive onto Ford Island or visitors may park at the Arizona Memorial parking area and use the Ford Island shuttle.

Purchase tickets online at PacificAviationMuseum.org, at the Museum, or Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. General admission: $20, adults; $10, children. Kama`aina and military admission: $12 adults; $7, children. Admission is free to Museum members and military in uniform.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum on historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honors aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history.

The Museum provides educational programs for adults and children and is located at 319 Lexington Boulevard in Hangars 37 and 79 on Historic Ford Island at Pearl Harbor. Opened December 6, 2006, the Museum has been rated “one of the top ten aviation attractions” in the nation by TripAdvisor. There are more than 600.

Highway 130 Wreck Leads to Death of Motorcyclist

5/7/12 UPDATE:  The 51-year-old Puna who man died May 2 from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle crash at the intersection of Route 130 and Leilani Avenue in Pāhoa has been identified as Rikko J. Von Gato of Pāhoa.

A 51-year-old Puna man died Wednesday (May 2) from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle crash at the intersection of Route 130 and Leilani Avenue in Pāhoa.

Responding to a 9:54 a.m. call, Puna patrol officers determined that the man was operating a 2007 Harley Davidson motorcycle and traveling west on Leilani Avenue when he failed to stop at the stop sign, went through the intersection onto a private driveway and struck a gate.

The man was not wearing a helmet.

He was taken to Hilo Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 1:12 p.m.

It is unknown at this time if alcohol or drugs were involved but speed was a factor in this crash.

The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated coroner’s inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Because this death occurred on a private road, it is not counted toward the official traffic fatality count.

Wordless Wednesday – The New Kid On the Block

The Hawaii Tribune Herald recently hired a new journalist.

His name is Tom Callis and he is from Covington, Washington and graduated from Western Washington University.

Black Hole Caught Red-Handed in a Stellar Homicide

Astronomers have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close. NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer, a space-based observatory, and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on the summit of Haleakala in Hawaii, were among the first to help identify the stellar remains.

Supermassive black holes, weighing millions to billions times more than the sun, lurk in the centers of most galaxies. These hefty monsters lay quietly until an unsuspecting victim, such as a star, wanders close enough to get ripped apart by their powerful gravitational clutches.

Astronomers have spotted these stellar homicides before, but this is the first time they identified the victim. Using several ground- and space-based telescopes, a team of astronomers led by Suvi Gezari of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore identified the victim as a star rich in helium gas. The star resides in a galaxy 2.7 billion light-years away. The team’s results will appear in today’s online edition of the journal Nature.

The Galaxy Evolution Explorer was launched on April 28, 2003. Its mission is to study the shape, brightness, size and distance of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic history. The 50-centimeter-diameter (19.7-inch) telescope onboard the Galaxy Evolution Explorer sweeps the skies in search of ultraviolet-light sources.
Ultraviolet is light from the higher end of the electromagnetic spectrum, just above visible light in frequency, but below X-rays and gamma rays. While a small amount of ultraviolet penetrates Earth's atmosphere, causing sunburn, the Galaxy Evolution Explorer observes those ultraviolet frequencies that can only be seen from space.
The Galaxy Evolution Explorer mission is led by the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., which is also responsible for science operations and data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., a division of Caltech, manages the mission and built the science instrument. The mission was developed under NASA's Explorers Program, managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. South Korea and France are the international partners in the mission. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“When the star is ripped apart by the gravitational forces of the black hole, some part of the star’s remains falls into the black hole while the rest is ejected at high speeds,” Gezari said. “We are seeing the glow from the stellar gas falling into the black hole over time. We’re also witnessing the spectral signature of the ejected gas, which we find to be mostly helium. It is like we are gathering evidence from a crime scene. Because there is very little hydrogen and mostly helium in the gas, we detect from the carnage that the slaughtered star had to have been the helium-rich core of a stripped star.”

This observation yields insights about the harsh environment around black holes and the types of stars swirling around them. It is not the first time the unlucky star had a brush with the behemoth black hole.

The team believes the star’s hydrogen-filled envelope surrounding the core was lifted off a long time ago by the same black hole. The star may have been near the end of its life. After consuming most of its hydrogen fuel, it had probably ballooned in size, becoming a red giant. Astronomers think the bloated star was looping around the black hole in a highly elliptical orbit, similar to a comet’s elongated orbit around the sun. On one of its close approaches, the star was stripped of its puffed-up atmosphere by the black hole’s powerful gravity. The stellar remains continued its journey around the center, until it ventured even closer to the black hole to face its ultimate demise.

Astronomers predict stripped stars circle the central black hole of our Milky Way galaxy. These close encounters are rare, occurring roughly every 100,000 years. To find this event, Gezari’s team monitored hundreds of thousands of galaxies in ultraviolet light with the Galaxy Evolution Explorer, and in visible light with Pan-STARRS1. Pan-STARRS, short for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, scans the entire night sky for all kinds of transient phenomena, including supernovae.

The team was looking for a bright flare in ultraviolet light from the nucleus of a galaxy with a previously dormant black hole. Both telescopes spotted one in June 2010. Astronomers continued to monitor the flare as it reached peak brightness a month later and slowly faded during the next 12 months. The brightening event was similar to the explosive energy unleashed by a supernova, but the rise to the peak was much slower, taking nearly one and a half months.

“The longer the event lasted, the more excited we got, because we realized this is either a very unusual supernova or an entirely different type of event, such as a star being ripped apart by a black hole,” said team member Armin Rest of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

By measuring the increase in brightness, the astronomers calculated the black hole’s mass to be several million suns, which is comparable to the size of our Milky Way’s black hole.

Spectroscopic observations with the Multiple Meter Telescope Observatory located on Mount Hopkins in Arizona showed the black hole was swallowing lots of helium. Spectroscopy divides light into its rainbow colors, which yields an object’s characteristics, such as its temperature and gaseous makeup.

To completely rule out the possibility of an active nucleus flaring up in the galaxy, the team used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the hot gas. Chandra showed that the characteristics of the gas didn’t match those from an active galactic nucleus.

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Rachel Thompson Files Nomination Papers for Hawaii County Council District 2 Seat

Rachel Thompson, of Hilo, has declared her intent to run for the Hawaiʻi County Council. Thompson pulled her Nomination Papers on Thursday, April 26, 2012.

Thompson is running for the Second Council District, a seat being vacated by Councilman Donald Ikeda. She is the fifth candidate to file for the non-partisan seat.  Her opponents include sitting Councilmember J. Yoshimoto, who currently represents Council District 3, former Waimanalo State House Representative Kenneth Goodenow, Procurement Specialist Steve Wilhelm, and National Vision Inc. Manager Henry Aina.

Thompson was born in Churchtown, New York in 1984 and moved to Hilo shortly thereafter. Her family settled in Hilo and she attended Kindergarten here before returning to New York so her mother could tend to her ailing grandfather in 1990. While in New York, she attended Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School. Upon returning to Hilo to 1998, Thompson continued her education at Malamalama Waldorf School in Keaau for 8th grade before moving to the newly constructed Keaʻau High School in 1999. Thompson was the Valedictorian of the first graduating class at Keaʻau High School in 2003, and she received her Diploma Magna Cum Laude. She received her paralegal degree from the University of Colorado in 2007, and her Associates Degree in Administration of Justice from Hawaii Community College in 2010. Thompson has worked at the Law Offices of Robert Marx as the Office Manager and Senior Paralegal since 2007.

Thompson has already collected the required signatures to get her name on the ballot and is now seeking signatures from constituents in the Second Council District to qualify for the Comprehensive Public Funding Program (CPFP). The CPFP is a pilot program on the Big Island that allows Council Candidates to receive a set amount of public funding for their campaign if they are able to meet a threshold of 200 signatures and an accompanying $5 check or money order from registered voters in their District. The program prohibits the candidate from receiving any private funding and removes the outside influence of money on campaigns.

The Second County Council District runs from the Puna Side of the Wailuku River, encompasses all of Kaumana, downtown Hilo, and most of lower Waiakea Uka. Thompson lives and works in downtown Hilo, and her two children attend Connections Public Charter School in the Kress Building on Kamehameha Avenue.