Tag Archives: Aircraft

Upolu Airport bombed

Planes gathered at Upolu Airport, on the northern tip of the Big Island, for a fly-in.

Why would anyone want to bomb Upolu Airport, a lightly used airstrip at the northern tip of the island, which is where I go walking because of the peace and quiet? That’s what I wondered when I went down there on Saturday and found 20-plus aircraft, cars parked alongside the road, and a lot of people milling around. Turns out, a group of aviation enthusiasts had organized a fly-in and I’d stumbled on it en route to my walk.

There were planes parked, planes circling above, planes zipping by a whisker above the ground. Apart from the general milling around, a couple of events were scheduled. The first was a touch and go challenge where the goal was to touch as close as possible in front of a line across the runway. Touch down after the line and it counted for nought.

The other event was the bombing run. By the time that rolled around, I’d walked around to the other side of the runway and was leaning on a fence chatting to a couple of airport maintenance workers. The target circle for the bombing challenge, which involved bags of flour rather than high explosives, was not far from where I was so I decided to wait for it to play out, which took rather longer than I anticipated.

What I was hoping for was large bags of flour being dropped from a decent height and exploding in a large white cloud. Instead the bags were small and dropped from just a few feet above the ground as the planes flew by very low indeed. I don’t think the exercise even broke a bag, let alone throwing up a cloud of flour.

Still, it appeared that a good time was had by all, and while my walk got a zero on the peace and quiet scale, it got high marks for being, as they used to say on Monty Python, something completely different.

One of the planes makes a low pass over the airport.
A plane makes a touch-and-go landing, attempting to get as close to the line across the runway as possible.
One of the planes making a low pass for a bombing run. The bomb, a small bag of flour, can be seen just behind the rearmost wheel.
Another plane on a bombing run. The ‘flour bomb’ can be seen behind the plane.

A plane and the moon

Becky’s July Squares challenge theme is ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

This photo is a perfect example of the ‘perspective’ theme. See how much bigger the plane looks than the moon. That’s because it’s a lot closer. But if the plane was up there, close to the moon, it would look a lot smaller than the moon, because the moon is actually way bigger than the plane. Also, the pilot would be in a world of trouble, or in out-of-this-world trouble, depending on your perspective.

Signs: No people

Three of these signs appeared at Upolu Airport recently. I think we can all agree that in these troubling times it’s important for people to stay safe by following such protocols.

The plane in the photo is owned by the skydiving company that used to fly out of the airport back in pre-pandemic days. It’s fairly safe to say that they’ll be one of the last businesses allowed to reopen. It’s hard to maintain social distancing on a plane that size, especially when most clients are going to be strapped to someone who knows how to operate a parachute.

In the meantime, in the last four months, the number of times I’ve seen more than one person inside the fence is exactly equal to the number of times I’ve seen that one person wearing a mask. I won’t say how many times that is, but it’s a very round number.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

Search helicopter over Mau’umae Beach

I saw this Hawaii County Fire Department Search and Rescue helicopter flying over Mau’umae Beach, just south of Kawaihae. I think it was just on a training exercise, but we have had a run of missing fishermen and free divers so it might have been associated with one of those searches.

The body of one fisherman was located submerged along the coast, but no trace of the others has been found yet, to my knowledge. The standard practice on the Big Island is to search for three days. If nothing is found by the end of that time, then they call it off.

There are strong currents around the island and if a swimmer or fisherman is injured in the water, it’s easy for them to be swept out to sea, where the chances of finding them diminish rapidly. Sad as it is when a body is recovered, it’s almost harder when nothing is found and there is no sense of closure for families and friends.

Before and after

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘In Transit.’ See more responses here.

Here in Hawaii, tourism is our number one industry. In normal years, more than 30,000 visitors arrive in Hawaii every day. Currently, the number of daily arrivals is around 1,500. In this topsy-turvy world that precipitous decline is a good thing.

In the U.S., states don’t have the authority to regulate flights; that’s a federal matter. But Hawaii was able to require that people arriving in the state had to quarantine for 14 days. This effectively killed tourism. Why visit Hawaii for two weeks if you have to spend every day of that visit confined to your hotel room? This 14-day quarantine even applied to inter-island travel. Because of these restrictions, Hawaii has had a very low infection rate and very few deaths. Here on the Big Island, there have been less than 100 cases and zero deaths. Next week, the inter-island quarantine requirement will be lifted, but it will be retained until at least the end of July for visitors from out of state and abroad.

So the reason for the similar-looking photos? The top one is from a previous year and shows one of a procession of planes landing at Kona airport. The photo below shows a recent photo of a plane flying overhead, which was noteworthy because it was unusual. The planes aren’t there. The skies are quiet. Currently, the daily number of passenger flights arriving at Kona airport can be counted on one hand. The number of visitors is in the 20s or 30s. When and if those numbers return to previous levels is anybody’s guess.