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Prop-Hopping In Paradise: KOA-OGG-KOA  
User currently offlineBZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 264 posts, RR: 1
Posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 6752 times:

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Dear fellow A.Netters,

Welcome to my 29th trip report, which covers a short, roundtrip jaunt between Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii and Kahului on the island of Maui. I hope you enjoy the report and photos. As always, comments and questions are greatly appreciated!

BACKGROUND

In early January of 2013, I joined some of my family for a six-day vacation on Hawaii’s Big Island. As an aviation enthusiast, I was especially eager to see the beauty of the islands from the air, and looked into several companies offering helicopter sightseeing flights around the Big Island. Unfortunately, all of the options were at least a few hundred dollars per person, even for the shortest tours. There were also a few tours using light, fixed-wing aircraft, which were somewhat cheaper than the helicopter tours, but still above my budget.

So, I starting looking into another option, one that would make sense only to aviation enthusiasts like us—a roundtrip hop on a scheduled carrier, just for the sake of flying new routes, new types and, most of all, getting in the air to see the islands from above! After a bit of investigating, I decided to do a roundtrip from Kona to the neighboring island of Maui, and in particular Kahului, the island’s main airport. This route was served by three carriers: Hawaiian Airlines, using Boeing 717s, and the much smaller Pacific Wings and Mokulele Airlines, both using Cessna 208 Caravans. As my goal was to make this a sightseeing flight of sorts, I decided to go “lower and slower” and opt for one leg each on Pacific Wings and Mokulele, which also offered the chance to fly the Cessna 208, which for me was a first.

I searched the schedules before opting for an early-morning roundtrip on the final day of my vacation. Although the early-morning wakeup would be painful, it would allow me to be back at the hotel by mid-morning to enjoy some final beach time with my family before our evening departure back to the mainland (and for me onward from there back to Belgium). The two one-way tickets on Pacific Wings and Mokulele combined for a total price of just over $100—less than half the price of the cheapest sightseeing flight. And although the flights would not quite offer the same spectacular views offered in a sightseeing flight, I knew the Hawaiian scenery visible on this route would certainly not disappoint. Moreover, it would give me a chance to compare two competing carriers operating the same aircraft types on the same routes.

TIME TO FLY

FLIGHT 1 OF 2

Date: 9 January 2013
Route: Kona (KOA)-Kahului (OGG)
Flight #: LW 717
Aircraft Type: Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
Aircraft Registration: N303PW
Scheduled Departure: 07:35 HST
Actual Takeoff: 07:34 HST
Scheduled Arrival: 08:10 HST
Actual Landing: 08:07 HST
Flight Time: 0:33
Distance: 84 miles (135 kilometers)
Altitude: 8,500 feet MSL (2,590 meters)
Seat: 3rd row, left-side window
Load: 3/9
My Logbook: 1st flight on Pacific Wings / 1st flight on the Cessna 208 / 314th airline flight overall

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(Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper)

I set the alarm for 5:45 am and, after a quick shower and cup of coffee, was on the road in my rental car towards the Kona airport, about 25 minutes away. I pulled into the pay parking lot and made my way towards the terminal looking for the Pacific Wings check-in area. I was not sure whether the airline flew from the main terminal or from a separate general aviation facility, but as I had not noticed any signs for Pacific Wings, I headed for the main building. I ended up finding a Hawaiian Airlines employee and asked where the Pacific Wings check-in area was. Although I was flying with the competition, he was friendly and informed me that I needed to walk about a quarter mile from the main terminal to reach the commuter terminal. I thanked him and proceeded on my way. After a nice walk, I reached the commuter terminal, which was more a cluster of small buildings than an actual terminal.

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I noticed the signs indicating free parking for customers of the commuter carriers. Given that my car was in the pay lot, and that I still had about an hour until my flight, I decided to go get my car and re-park it in the free lot. That process took about 15 minutes, but as I was not in a rush, it was worth it to save a few bucks.

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Once I had taken care of the car, I made my way into the small, open-air building.

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Upon arriving at the Pacific Wings counter, I was a bit surprised to find it unstaffed. Instead, a sign instructed passengers arriving for check-in to pick up the phone sitting on the counter and check in with an agent on the other end of the line. This was definitely a first for me—a bit odd and not really the most welcoming experience, especially since the neighboring Mokulele desk was staffed by two agents who were also providing complimentary bottles of water to passengers who were checking in.

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Nonetheless, the phone check-in process was quick and the agent on the other end told me to have a seat and wait for the pilots to come get me. Instead of sitting idly by, I headed back outside to have a look at the aircraft on the ramp. As Kona is a destination for the rich and sometimes famous, there was a lot of nice equipment parked on the tarmac.

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There was also a very nice little Cessna 208 wearing the Mokulele livery which was awaiting its next hop to Maui, just before my departure on Pacific Wings.

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Around 7:15, my inbound Pacific Wings Cessna 208 landed and taxied up to the commuter terminal. In contrast to the Mokulele fleet, this aircraft was nondescript in its simple white paint. To me, the lack of a proper paint job made this little workhorse even more interesting, and I was glad to fly on her. However, from the standpoint of branding, Mokulele seemed to outdo Pacific Wings.

Mokulelehttp://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag46/BZNPilot/Prop-Hopping%20in%20Paradise/10_zps2b80550e.jpg

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Preparing this small aircraft for the next flight was a quick process, and by 7:25 one of the pilots entered the little terminal and asked those of us awaiting this flight to Maui to follow him to the aircraft. We walked through the gate of the chain-link fence and out onto the tarmac—a fun experience that reminded me of my youth, when my father was active as a private pilot. There were only three passengers, including me, and the pilot lead us to the rear door on the starboard side, pointing each of us to the necessary seat for weight and balance purposes. He then gave us a short and informal safety briefing before closing the door from the outside and reentering the airplane through the cockpit door. Being in this small cabin brought back more memories of my childhood flying with my father. Although this 208 was certainly bigger than the 172s and 182s of those days, the look and feel, and the sense of being in a small aircraft, was the same. It was great!

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Despite the small cabin, the legroom and seat were no worse than what one finds on any number of large airliners.



With the doors sealed and the two pilots side-by-side up front, the turbo-prop engine began to whine and the blades started spinning. At 7:30, the wheels started rolling and we made our way across the tarmac toward the taxiway.

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In this powerful Cessna, there was no need for the full length of Kona’s 11,000 foot (3,350 meter) runway, so we soon took to the centerline somewhere in the middle of its length, the nose pointing south for a RWY17 departure.

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At 07:34, I watched as the flying pilot pushed forward the throttle. We accelerated very quickly and before I knew it, were in the air. As someone who mostly flies on big jets these days, I was surprised how short the takeoff roll was.

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Immediately after takeoff, I got a nice view of many millions of dollars sitting on the tarmac. I hope to someday have the chance to ride in one of these!

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About a minute after liftoff, we began a 180-degree turn back to the north, with the Kona airport coming into view off the port side.

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After passing just north of the airport, we turned to the northwest before passing over the coastline and continuing out over the Alenuihāhā Channel separating the island of Hawaii and Maui. We soon leveled off at our cruising altitude of 8,500 feet (2,590 meters).

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One of the nice things about being in such a small aircraft was that I could snap photos out the windows on both sides.

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Another major benefit was having a direct view into the front office!

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It was a gorgeous morning for flying, with nice light and beautiful effects in the clouds.

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Before long, we approached the island of Maui, which was visible off the right-hand side with its volcanic topography directly meeting the waves of the Pacific.

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Meanwhile, out the port-side windows, the island of Kahoʻolawe appeared. This is the smallest of the eight main Hawaiian islands. This island was used by the US military as a bombing range and training ground until the 1990s. Today it is generally uninhabited and is closed to the public, with the only visits being for Hawaiian cultural and religious practices.

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Meanwhile one of the pilots announced that we had begun our descent into Maui and that we should keep our eyes on the water for the chance of seeing whales, as he had seen them on most of his recent flights over the waters just south of Maui. Unfortunately, there were none visible on this day, but it was a nice effort by the pilot, nonetheless. During the descent I also followed our progress on the cockpit instruments, which was interesting for an aviation fan like me. We descended at 700 feet per minute according to the gauge up front, which from the perception of a passenger was fairly gentle.

In the channel between Kaho’olawe and Maui sits the partially submerged volcanic crater of Molokini, which also offered nice views as we began our descent into Maui. This island is a very popular spot for divers.

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As we continued our descent, I spied the rocky, volcanic coastline of Maui as it came into view directly beneath the tire. Spectacular!

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Of course, the island of Maui, as a whole, is spectacular as well, and I was treated to lovely views of the island’s greenery as we turned to the north on final approach towards the airport.

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I divided my time between looking out the window to my left, and looking out the front windscreen. It was a treat to be able to see forward, and I watched with great interest as the flying pilot lined up with the runway.

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The aircraft stabilized on short final as we glided the last distance toward the runway.

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We touched down smoothly on RWY35 at 8:07 after a flight time of 33 minutes. The pilot steered the Cessna onto a taxiway to the left.

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Just three minutes after landing, we reached our parking position at the commuter terminal. The shutdown process was quick and within a minute or so I was off the aircraft. The walk across the ramp gave me some nice photos of my aircraft and the rest of the lineup.

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With almost an hour until my Mokulele flight back to Kona, I decided to stretch my legs a little. I proceeded to the front of the commuter terminal building, which here in Maui was still small, but nonetheless a bit more substantial than the facilities in Kona.

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I checked in at the Mokulele counter for my flight back to Kona, which was a simple and quick process with the friendly agent. I then passed the rest of the time reading a newspaper and enjoying the warm breeze as it drifted through the open structure of the terminal. Before I knew it, the same friendly Mokulele agent made an announcement that my flight was ready for boarding.

FLIGHT 2 OF 2

Date: 9 January 2013
Route: Kahului (OGG)-Kona (KOA)
Flight #: MW1760
Aircraft Type: Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
Aircraft Registration: N864MA “The Spirit of Maui”
Scheduled Departure: 09:12 HST
Actual Takeoff: 09:10 HST
Scheduled Arrival: 09:54 HST
Actual Landing: 09:44 HST
Flight Time: 0:34
Distance: 84 miles (135 kilometers)
Altitude: 9,500 feet MSL (2,895 meters)
Seat: 3rd row, left-side window
Load: 6/9
My Logbook: 1st flight on Mokulele Airlines / 2nd flight on the Cessna 208 / 315th airline flight overall

The six passengers, including me, gathered by the door to the tarmac, and the agent read each of our names off the manifest and told us which seat to take in the aircraft for weight and balance purposes. At 9:00 sharp, she opened the door and escorted us across the tarmac to our waiting Cessna.

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We entered the aircraft and I found my seat in the third row on the left side—the same seat I had been assigned on my inbound flight. I was immediately impressed at the difference in the condition of the cabin compared to my earlier flight with Pacific Wings. This aircraft was equipped with nice fixtures including wood paneling at the front, cup holders next to each seat and TV monitors (although the monitors remained off for the duration of my flight). The whole cabin had a much more “finished” feel to it, as opposed to the bare-bones cabin I found on Pacific Wings. For a short flight on a commuter airline, such things do not make a huge difference to me; I am only pointing out, once again, the image and product that Mokulele seemed to be projecting compared to that of its competitor.

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Meanwhile, the white Pacific Wings aircraft I had arrived on still sat on the ramp awaiting its next flight.

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Within a minute of boarding, the other passengers had also settled in and one of the pilots gave a quick safety briefing before sealing the door and hopping in the cockpit. The legroom was about the same as my previous flight, which is to say adequate for a short hop, and the seat was comfortable.



I took a moment to check out the safety card.



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Soon the pilots started the engine and we taxied across the ramp. I quickly realized we were not taxiing toward the longer RWY02/20 I had arrived on earlier; instead we taxied the short distance to RWY05, which is immediately adjacent the commuter terminal on the northwestern edge of the airport.

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We lined up on the centerline at 9:10 and began another short takeoff roll before launching up and away.

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We then made a climbing right turn to the southeast, with lush, green fields passing underneath.

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Soon the rugged, rocky flows coming off the flanks of the Haleakalā volcano came into view.

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It was a gorgeous morning and the views were spectacular as we passed over the western and southwestern flanks of the massive shield volcano.

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As we approached the southern side of the mountain, beautiful clouds appeared, climbing up the slopes.



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We soon leveled off at 9,500 feet (2,900 meters) and headed out over the channel towards the Big Island. The views remained gorgeous, with the blue of the Pacific below, and the white, whipped cirrus clouds of the flight levels far above.

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Before long, the big volcano of Mauna Kea appeared, rising out of the island, itself rising out of the water.

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Too quickly, we began our descent towards Kona. The haze in the next photo is not smog, but rather “vog”—particles and gasses released from an active volcano.

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The Cessna approached the rocky coastline, which offered beautiful views of the water and the features under the surface.

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As we descended the final distance to the runway, we passed over more beautiful, rocky flows—simply an amazing landscape.

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As the flying pilot began the flare, I turned my camera to the front. Just a few more feet to go…

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We touched down smoothly on RWY17 at 9:44, after a flying time of 34 minutes. I had departed from this same runway just two hours and ten minutes earlier, and of that time, one hour and seven minutes was in the air. Not a bad excursion, in my opinion!

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We exited the runway to the left and taxied south past the main terminal and cargo ramp toward the commuter terminal.

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It was neat to see this Short 360 cargo plane—not a very common type at most airports these days.

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http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag46/BZNPilot/Prop-Hopping%20in%20Paradise/97_zps43c19584.jpg

A mere two minutes after touchdown, we came to a stop at our parking position.

http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag46/BZNPilot/Prop-Hopping%20in%20Paradise/95_zps2900c739.jpg

The prop stopped spinning and within a minute, the pilot opened the rear passenger door from the outside, allowing us to disembark. I thanked him for the flight and—as I had not been able to see the altimeter during the flight, asked him what our cruising altitude had been. He replied 9,500 feet (hence I was able to cite this figure earlier in the report), and I thanked him again and proceeded on my way. But not before two final photos of the nice Cessna sitting on the tarmac.

http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag46/BZNPilot/Prop-Hopping%20in%20Paradise/96_zps7f3335ec.jpg

http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag46/BZNPilot/Prop-Hopping%20in%20Paradise/98_zpsb46d44bf.jpg

I made my way back through the gate in the chain-link fence and was again “landside” at Kona. Not wanting my aviation experience to be quite over, I decided to walk to the far end of the parking lot to see what other aircraft were on the ramp. Here are a couple interesting, and very different, examples.

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineYYZAMS From Canada, joined Feb 2011, 229 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 6509 times:

What a breath of fresh air to read this great and unique report!
Thank you for the idea of flying the commuter airlines within Hawaii. I would definitely consider
it as an alternative to a heli ride!

I wonder if you didn't have a car how would one get to the airport? Is it easy?
Great pictures!


User currently offlineCairnterriAIR From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 405 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 6483 times:

Neat!!! What a great way to see the islands from the air. Too bad you didn't get to see a whale, but still nice alternative to the big jets where you don't get quite as good a view from above.

User currently onlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2445 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 5879 times:

Nice TR...

On June 15th Pacific Wings stopped their regional Hawaiian operations:

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/2...5/pacific-wings-says-shutting-down


User currently offlineCdnCactus From Canada, joined Mar 2013, 189 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5813 times:

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
It was neat to see this Short 360 cargo plane—not a very common type at most airports these days.

Shorts! The last time I saw one was with Pacific Coastal Airlines. Pretty sure it's gone from the fleet now.

Spectacular landscape...excellent photos. A great read.


User currently onlinejetsetter629 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 448 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 5460 times:

Great trip report!! I flew OGG-KOA just about a year ago on my honeymoon. Of course my wife was NOT happy when we boarded the Pacific Wings Cessna 208B - but why book HA when you can fly a plane like that. I'm not 100% confident, but I think I saw a whale in the air between Maui and Hawaii.

Makes me miss Kona and the Big Island. Each island is so incredibly different! Smart of you by booking your "air tour" using commercial flights!


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 5206 times:

Hello BZNPilot


Great review from your side, Interesting to see 2 new carriers in the log. Two totally unknown for me.
Nice to see the exotic touch as well, from the small check in kiosk to the smaller plane.
Just a bit strange of having a telephone desk to check in for Pacific wings.
Great scenery pics as well.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineBZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 264 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 5196 times:

Thanks to everyone for reading and responding so far! I'll reply to your responses momentarily; however, I noticed that sometime between 12 and 24 hours after posting the report, the A.net website suddenly cut off the last portion of it (even though that portion had been visible immediately after posting it). Very frustrating! In any case, just to finish it off properly once again, I'll repost the missing section, and after that respond to the comments so far. Thanks for your understanding...

The report continued...

I made my way back through the gate in the chain-link fence and was again “landside” at Kona. Not wanting my aviation experience to be quite over, I decided to walk to the far end of the parking lot to see what other aircraft were on the ramp. Here are a couple interesting, and very different, examples.

http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag46/BZNPilot/Prop-Hopping%20in%20Paradise/99_zps1a62a9aa.jpg

http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag46/BZNPilot/Prop-Hopping%20in%20Paradise/100_zps6a4f371a.jpg

After a few minutes, I returned to my car to begin the drive back to the resort. So long, Kona airport—see you in about 12 hours for my flight back to the mainland (and onward to Europe)!

http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag46/BZNPilot/Prop-Hopping%20in%20Paradise/101_zpsf9a5adb9.jpg

CONCLUDING ANALYSIS

As these flights did not entail many of the aspects I usually consider when rating my experiences—such as baggage services, inflight entertainment, food and beverages, etc.—I am not going to apply the rating system I usually do at the end of my trip reports. Both Pacific Wings and Mokulele did a good job of providing the services they promised.

With that said, Mokulele clearly offered a better product. It was not so much a difference in terms of comfort, but rather in the way each carrier seemed to present itself as an airline. For example, the website of Pacific Wings looked like it was created in the 1990s (and I had to book that ticket through Orbitz in the end) while Mokulele had a more modern and functional website (which allowed direct booking). The Pacific Wings check-in experience in Kona was an odd, over-the-phone affair, while Mokulele had face-to-face service with a smile. The Pacific Wings aircraft—though a nice-looking workhorse of a Cessna—appeared rather drab compared to the colorful scheme of its Mokulele competitor, and the same could be said when comparing the interiors of the two aircraft. In short, Mokulele seemed like a legitimate airline, while Pacific Wings seemed more like an air taxi run by a “mom and pop” business. Both were interesting to experience, and I was certainly not looking for flights of luxury. And, in fact, the more rudimentary operations of Pacific Wings were also interesting and exotic compared to my usual flights. Again, both carriers followed through in their promise to get me from point A to point B. I only mean to point out the visible differences I observed.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, as of this writing Pacific Wings has stopped its Hawaiian operations. The company, which also was present as Georgia Skies and New Mexico Airlines, among other brands, seems to be on the decline as of this writing. Based on my search of their various websites, only New Mexico Airlines seems to still be offering flights. Although I agree with the value of competition in any market, and understand that businesses come and go, often based on their own merits, I always see the end of an airline’s operations as a bit of a melancholy development. After all, the decline of an airline also marks the end of an era in the history of the carrier, the people who diligently worked for its success, and for the communities it served. So while Pacific Wings seemed to already be on the decline at the time of my experience with them, I am glad I had that experience when I did. And I offer my congratulations to the airline and its employees for the service they provided day in and day out, during the course of their operations, to link the beautiful Hawaiian islands. As for Mokulele, I was impressed by what I saw, and I wish the carrier success going forward.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this report! Comments, questions and feedback are most welcome.

BZNPilot

My other reports on Airliners.net can be seen at:

Lufthansa's Rocky Mountain High? BZN-DEN-FRA (by BZNPilot Mar 9 2013 in Trip Reports)
Transatlantic Longhaul: FRA-SFO-BZN On UA (by BZNPilot Feb 8 2013 in Trip Reports)
Iceland Unexpectedly: SEA-KEF-BRU On FI (by BZNPilot Aug 22 2012 in Trip Reports)
A Prop Hop To The Pacific: Horizon Air Q400 (by BZNPilot Aug 19 2012 in Trip Reports)
Big Apple To Big Sky Country On Delta/Skywest (by BZNPilot Apr 30 2012 in Trip Reports)
Farewell CO - A Transatlantic First And Last (by BZNPilot Apr 23 2012 in Trip Reports)
Short & Long On LH: BRU-MUC-IAD, DCA-BOS-FRA-BRU (by BZNPilot Oct 30 2011 in Trip Reports)
Day Tripping: 3 Flights, 3 Countries, Many Pics (by BZNPilot Jun 13 2011 in Trip Reports)
Trans-Atlantic Part 2: BZN-DEN-OKC-IAD-GVA-BRU (by BZNPilot Dec 3 2010 in Trip Reports)
Trans-Atlantic Part 1: BRU-ATL-SLC-BZN On DL (by BZNPilot Nov 15 2010 in Trip Reports)
A Bee-Line To Madrid: SN’s A319 & B733 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 13 2010 in Trip Reports)
YVR-PDX-BFI: Horizon + SeaPort's PC-12 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
Day Tripping: DCA-DTW-MKE-DCA On NW/YX (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 25 2009 in Trip Reports)
BZN-IAD On Skywest/Delta (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 24 2009 in Trip Reports)
DCA-SEA + Boeing Field + Holiday Travel Odyssey (by BZNPilot Jan 3 2009 in Trip Reports)
CDG-FRA-IAD On AF/UA (Part 2, Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Nov 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
DCA-ORD-FRA-CDG On UA/LH/AF (Part 1, Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Nov 9 2008 in Trip Reports)
Planes & Trains To Montreal (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
IAD-DEN-BZN-ORD-DCA On UA Biz/Y (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 12 2008 in Trip Reports)
DC-9+A320+738s On NW/DL To MT (pics) (by BZNPilot Aug 3 2008 in Trip Reports)
DC To Montana On NW (many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jun 15 2008 in Trip Reports)
HKG-ORD-DCA On UA In Coach (pics) (by BZNPilot Jun 14 2008 in Trip Reports)
HKG-MNL-HKG On CX (Business) W Pics (by BZNPilot Feb 25 2008 in Trip Reports)
Manila-Caticlan-Manila For New Years (Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
MRY-SFO-HKG On UA (with Pics) (by BZNPilot Feb 2 2008 in Trip Reports)
DCA-PHL-SFO (with Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 29 2008 in Trip Reports)
Northwest Tri-Jets To Germany In 1999 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Feb 5 2010 in Trip Reports)
Lama Chopper In The Montana Mountains (w Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 21 2008 in Trip Reports)


User currently offlineBZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 264 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5166 times:

Thanks again to all who read, and all who commented. Much appreciated!

Hi YYZAMS,

Quoting YYZAMS (Reply 1):
What a breath of fresh air to read this great and unique report!

Thanks, glad you enjoyed.

Quoting YYZAMS (Reply 1):
Thank you for the idea of flying the commuter airlines within Hawaii. I would definitely consider
it as an alternative to a heli ride!

Indeed, I would definitely recommend these flights as an alternative to to a heli ride. I suppose it is not quite the same as proper sightseeing tour, but with the scenery those two islands offer even on regular flights, it was pretty darn close to a sightseeing flight.

Quoting YYZAMS (Reply 1):
I wonder if you didn't have a car how would one get to the airport? Is it easy?

I was at a hotel about 25 minutes north of the airport, and although there was a shuttle that could be organized through the hotel, it came at a fairly steep price (can't remember exactly). I suppose it is easier to get to KOA if one is staying in or near the city of Kona itself. I opted for the rental car because it wasn't that much more expensive, for 6 days, than the price for two people for roundtrip transfers with the hotel shuttle. Plus, I wanted to do some sightseeing on the island, and wanted the flexibility of my own car. For the Big Island, I would definitely recommend getting a rental car, if possible. Thanks again for reading and commenting!

Hi CairnterriAir,

Quoting CairnterriAIR (Reply 2):
Neat!!! What a great way to see the islands from the air.

Thanks! I'd recommend these flights for sure.

Quoting CairnterriAIR (Reply 2):
Too bad you didn't get to see a whale, but still nice alternative to the big jets where you don't get quite as good a view from above.

In my opinion, the little planes are for me always a thrill, as they usually give the best views and the best sense of really flying. As for the whale, it would have been cool to have spotted one from the air, but I couldn't really complain. A couple days earlier, I had gone whale watching by boat, and it was incredible. We did a tour run by Captain Dan McSweeney (if anyone is interested he's easy to find via Google). Would definitely recommend it! Here's a photo:


Hi debonair,

Quoting debonair (Reply 3):
On June 15th Pacific Wings stopped their regional Hawaiian operations:

Many thanks for pointing out the article. Indeed, the airline has now officially lost its "pacific wings", though it looks like their New Mexico operation (under a different brand) is still going (for the time being).

Hi CdnCactus,

Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 4):
Shorts! The last time I saw one was with Pacific Coastal Airlines.

Not too common these days! And, if I'm not mistaken, Pacific Coastal retired theirs a few years ago already?

Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 4):
Spectacular landscape...excellent photos. A great read.

Thanks, much appreciated!

Hi jetsetter629,

Quoting jetsetter629 (Reply 5):
Great trip report!!

Thanks!

Quoting jetsetter629 (Reply 5):
I flew OGG-KOA just about a year ago on my honeymoon. Of course my wife was NOT happy when we boarded the Pacific Wings Cessna 208B - but why book HA when you can fly a plane like that.

Cool, hope you had a nice experience and a nice time on the islands! I hope your wife ended up enjoying the flight nonetheless. Small planes definitely have a stigma for some folks, but I thought the two Cessna 208 flights of mine were very comfortable.

Quoting jetsetter629 (Reply 5):
I'm not 100% confident, but I think I saw a whale in the air between Maui and Hawaii.

Entirely possible. Good eyes!

Quoting jetsetter629 (Reply 5):
Makes me miss Kona and the Big Island. Each island is so incredibly different!

True. And it's amazing how different each island is in and of itself. Everything from tropical rainforests to desert to alpine climates, all in a fairly small piece of land.

Quoting jetsetter629 (Reply 5):
Smart of you by booking your "air tour" using commercial flights!

It worked out well, I'd recommend this approach. Thanks again for your comments, glad you enjoyed!

Hi Marc,

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 6):
Great review from your side, Interesting to see 2 new carriers in the log. Two totally unknown for me.

Thanks man, good to hear from you and glad you enjoyed!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 6):
Just a bit strange of having a telephone desk to check in for Pacific wings.

I know, right. It was weird. But if I think about it now, it actually wasn't that different than using a check in kiosk, which today is all too common. Still, the fact that Mokulele, at the counter next door, had two agents to greet their customers, seemed to highlight the difference.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 6):
Great scenery pics as well.

Thanks! Looking forward to being in touch with you soon, hopefully.

Take care everyone!

BZNPilot


User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4765 times:

Great report - loved the pics. What great views and a good idea to create your own sightseeing flights while in Hawaii.

Looks amazing. Thanks for sharing this report on a couple of operators who rarely feature on here.

Cheers Palmjet



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineSultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1751 posts, RR: 30
Reply 10, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 4507 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hallo BZNPilot,

Good to see another and excellent report from you! What gorgeous scenery you were able to witness and capture on photo. Also nice you got to try out these 2 exotic airlines  

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
Pacific Wings and Mokulele Airlines

The name of the latter makes me think more of an African airline than a Hawaian (?) one.

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
Moreover, it would give me a chance to compare two competing carriers operating the same aircraft types on the same routes.

Where on the planet would you be able to make a comparison like the one you present here? I wouldn’t know.

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
Upon arriving at the Pacific Wings counter, I was a bit surprised to find it unstaffed. Instead, a sign instructed passengers arriving for check-in to pick up the phone sitting on the counter and check in with an agent on the other end of the line. This was definitely a first for me—a bit odd and not really the most welcoming experience, especially since the neighboring Mokulele desk was staffed by two agents who were also providing complimentary bottles of water to passengers who were checking in.

That’s already a striking difference. Clearly no OLCI available lol!

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
the partially submerged volcanic crater of Molokini

At 1st I misread that but I guess that must be due to my dirty mind 

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
The haze in the next photo is not smog, but rather “vog”—particles and gasses released from an active volcano.

“vog”? Is that an own acronym of yours  

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6853 posts, RR: 77
Reply 11, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 4334 times:

Hi BZNPilot,

great report with many stunning pictures! What a nice idea to book such a trip - even though the planes are very small. I really need to go to Hawaii soon.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineha763 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 3663 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 4287 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

BZNPilot

Nice report. It is always nice to see trip reports about my home state.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 10):
Mokulele Airlines

The name of the latter makes me think more of an African airline than a Hawaian (?) one.

Mokulele is a Hawaiian word that means airplane or literally, flying ship.


User currently offlineadamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1168 posts, RR: 12
Reply 13, posted (1 year 2 months ago) and read 3761 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi BZNPilot,

What a great report with many stunning pictures!
I was actually scheduled to do some island hopping on my trip to Hawaii back in January but unfortunately missed out on it: USA Trip Pt. 7: Heading To Hawaii: SAN-LAX-HNL (by adamspotter Jul 13 2013 in Trip Reports)
I was actually scheduled to fly on Mokulele's Cessna from KOA-OGG.

Both flights look good, although I agree with you that Mokulele looks better here. No wonder Pacific Wings went bust!
The views of Hawaii are absolutely stunning, such a beautiful landscape! Can't wait to get back there  

Thanks again for sharing!

cheers,

Brendan


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