Category Archives: Better Days

Better Days: Wrecked bomber

Better-Days-Wrecked Bomber in trees

Better-Days-Wrecked Bomber in ravineOn the evening of Tuesday, February 25, 1941 this twin-engined B-18 bomber was part of a group of four aircraft on a night training mission. They had started out from Hickam Field on Oahu. Not far from Hilo the plane lost its port engine when a bearing failed. The pilot decided to try and reach Suiter Field (now known as Upolu Airport) at the island’s northern tip. It was not to be. Flying on only one engine, the plane lost altitude. The crew thought they were over the sea, but suddenly a mountain appeared in front of them. The pilot yanked on the flight yoke wheel and the plane stalled and flopped into the trees around 10 p.m.. Incredibly only one crewman was slightly injured.

Search aircraft from Hickam Field found the plane the next morning around 9 a.m.. The nose of the plane was hanging over a 75-foot deep ravine about 3,500 feet up on the northern side of Kohala Mountain. It was one of the most inaccessible places on the island. A rescue operation was started, but it was Thursday noon before it reached the crew.

Over the years, the aircraft has slid into the ravine which is where it rests today. As these photos show, the plane’s condition has deteriorated and it is increasingly being engulfed by trees. But it is still quite easily spotted from the air. On the ground, it remains one of the most inaccessible spots on the island.

It’s also worth noting that just nine months after this crash, almost all the B-18 bombers based at Hickam Field were destroyed on the ground during the attack on Pearl Harbor. 77 years on, this B-18, in its remote resting place, is one of only a handful remaining in existence.

For more information about this aircraft and the crash, search online for Big Island Bomber – hiavps.com or go to pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-18/36-446.html.

Better-Days-Wrecked Bomber

Better Days: Abandoned car

Better Days-Abandoned car on coast

Better Days-Abandoned carOne of the Big Island’s scenic attractions is its sprinkling of abandoned vehicles. One doesn’t have to drive too far to spot a car being swallowed by weeds or a wreck languishing just off the highway. Usually the person dumping the vehicle has stripped it of all the identifying information or never registered it and so can’t be traced.

I did a double take when I saw this car on one of my regular walks. Was this something new or something I’d simply failed to register for days/weeks/months? The latter is entirely possible, but I think this was a recent arrival that someone was not content to just abandon, but also felt it necessary to push it into the ocean. Perhaps it was stolen, perhaps used in a crime. Either way, it didn’t make it to its planned watery grave, at least not yet. Next winter’s storms might yet snatch it away. I doubt it will be retrieved before then.

Better Days: Dead blenny

Better Days-Dead Blenny

Exploring tide pools one day, I found this unfortunate floating blenny. It was quite large, for a blenny, and in a small pool. The weather had been calm for a few days, without much ocean swell. I think the fish was trapped in the pool and, without fresh seawater reaching it, the pool had become stale and oxygen starved.

The macabre essence of the scene contrasted with its painterly quality, enhanced by the blenny’s coloration and the delicate creamy shells in the pool.

Updated 6-20-18

I’ve since learned that the ‘delicate creamy shells’ in the pool are actually a type of seaweed, Padina japonica. I’m also not sure about my oxygen starvation theory either since blennies are notoriously adept as jumping from pool to pool. Two things are unchanged however: the blenny is still dead and I still like the painterly quality.