All the way from Alaska, new director aims to build relationships at Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach

Jarod Hoogland recently became the new director at the Military Aviation Museum, a home that houses historic aircraft and hosts events. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

BACK BAY — Growing up in Alaska, where small planes are used routinely for transportation, Jarod Hoogland became so interested in aircraft that he decided to carve out a career in aviation history.

Hoogland, who formerly worked at the Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage, Alaska, became director of the Military Aviation Museum near Pungo this past month. He replaced former director Mike Potter, who is now working as a senior volunteer.  

Hoogland’s plans for the museum include increasing the donor base by building partnerships with corporations and businesses, he said.

The museum has a budget of about $3 million per year, most of which comes from admission fees, special events and private donations, Hoogland said. He would like to build contacts in the community and increase the donor base, but he expects that it will be a gradual process.

“It’s all about relationship building,” Hoogland said. “We want to make this museum a central part of the Virginia Beach identity.”

The museum owns 70 World War I and World War II era military aircraft, and most are in flying condition, Hoogland said.  He’d like to expand and to change the exhibits frequently because he thinks that this will help attract visitors to the museum.

“We focus on keeping planes flying,” Hoogland said.  “We want this to be a living museum.”

Special events will continue to be a major part of the museum’s attractions, and the museum is gearing up for an air show featuring World War I aircraft, scheduled for Oct. 3-8.

“We want to transport people back in time 100 years,” said Hoogland.  The event will simulate an early twentieth century carnival, and carriage rides will be available for attendees.

Planes from the museum will be displayed at Naval Station Norfolk for a July 15 air show scheduled as part of that base’s 100 year anniversary. The vintage aircraft will also be featured at Naval Air Station Oceana’s airshow scheduled for Sept. 15-17.

“This is a good way for people to see what the military is doing now and where they came from,” Hoogland said.

Although there was some military aircraft in Alaska, Hoogland was always more familiar with small bush planes used for transportation, and the Alaska Aviation Museum primarily featured small bush panes from the 1920s and 1930s.

“Aviation was part of our everyday life,” Hoogland said.  “There are so many parts of the country that you can’t get to by car.” 

Both he and his wife, Julie, are history buffs, Hoogland said. While he liked his job, they grew restless in Alaska and wanted new places to explore.

“We are both history buffs, and we like to travel and explore,” Hoogland said, “and in Alaska, you can only go in two directions and you can’t go very far.  We were looking for a new adventure.”

He was very happy when he learned of a position opening at the museum in Virginia Beach.

“This museum has a world class collection,” Hoogland said, “so it seemed like a good chance to step in.”

Despite his interest in military aviation, Hoogland is not a pilot, and he has never been in the military.

However, he’s intimately acquainted with each of the planes at the museum.

His personal favorite is the PBY Catalina, an amphibious plane used as both a military aircraft and a passenger plane.

A visiting PT-19 aircraft from Topping, Va., is seen on the runway at the Military Aviation Museum during a past Warbirds Over the Beach event in this file image. [File/The Princess Anne Independent News]

The Military Aviation Museum is located at 1341 Princess Anne Road. Visit its website via or call (757) 721-7767 for more information.

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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