Saturday, March 10, 2012

Island Hopping in Hawaii (Part 2)

After an exciting intro to island flying, the next couple of days provided more amazing scenery and even more challenging flight conditions.
The first stop, which was the island of Kauai, was the longest flight segment over water.  So we filed a flight plan (and actually used the autopilot a bit).  As we approached the Lihue airport, we decided to fly the ILS 35 by hand just for some practice.  The gusty crosswinds continued to give me quite a workout.  When I was about 200 FT AGL, the winds, which were favoring runway 3, seemed to be getting even stronger (gusting to 35 kts).  The tower noticed this and asked if "I really wanted runway 35?". I said " at this point I would prefer 3".  He agreed and I quickly broke off the approach and circled to the left to land on runway 3.  With a strong headwind lined up straight to the runway I ended up having fairly easy landing. 

The next stop was the island of Oahu, which is the most urbanized of the Hawaiian islands. With Laurence's coaching, I asked ATC for a routing that provided some great photo opps of the Arizona Memorial, Honolulu downtown and Diamond Head.
Honolulu Downtown
Diamond Head
I felt very comfortable flying in the Honolulu Class B airspace because there was lots of airline traffic on the radios and it felt just like the East Coast.  But that comfort was quickly replaced by shock as I approached the traffic pattern.  The tower cleared me for a left downwind entry to a visual approach for runway 4L, which they refer to as the  "little" 7000 FT runway.  That sounded easy enough.  But as i got closer I heard the tower clear an airliner for takeoff on runway 08R.

Yikes! This meant my traffic pattern would be just a couple hundred FT directly over an airliner!!

I tried to stay focused... But I really  wanted a picture of this ... So I asked Laurence to grab the camera and try to get some photo evidence.  Here's what he got:
Honolulu Airport on approach
The next day we had a very specific objective, which was to land on the last of the Hawaiian islands to complete my mission and hopefully fly over the active volcano (Kilauea).

There were no significant aviation challenges on this day.  So I was just enjoying the scenery and taking countless pix.  The Big Island actually had a snow covered mountain peak, which took me by surprise.  But the real highlight was seeing the lava flows and overflying Kilauea, which you can see below:
Kilauea Volcano
Overall, my Hawaii excursion totally exceeded my expectation and definitely made it onto my Top 10 list!!

Now I am starting to think of the next challenge ... Several readers have already sent me suggestions, which I appreciate...

The leading contenders are the Canadian provinces, which might work out nicely this summer, or every country in the Caribbean (except of course Cuba).

Would welcome other creative suggestions!

== T.J.==