Part 2 - The Island Hopper - Honolulu to Guam & Manila.
Apologies in advance for the VERY, VERY long report, but there are a ton of pics. ENJOY
CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1
I was so excited when the alarms started going off sometime just passed five am. After only a few hours of sleep in beautiful Honolulu, it was time to fly! I showered, re-packed everything, ordered an uber, and we were off to the airport. United-154, Island Hopper service to Guam departs at seven-twenty five am, with a block time of fourteen and a half hours. Not that bad of a day on a 737; six take offs and landings, however, also added a Manila segment return to Guam with an hour in MNL
. Today, we had about twenty two hours of flying and would be close to, twenty six hours before sleeping in a bed again. I was so pumped!
We checked out of the Doubletree Waikiki, and made it to the airport in about twenty mins. Once we were at the airport, we proceeded right to the Premier check in line, and made sure everything was still ok with our reservations.
Premier Access Check-In
After a new set of boarding passes were printed off (another ten of them), we headed through Global Entry checkpoint and whisked ourselves through security and were off to our gate. I really enjoyed the Honolulu Airport; It was a very unique experience and loved how open the terminal was, with the fresh breeze and some pretty great spotting areas along the way. We eventually made it to our gate, our documents checked, and we boarded our first and longest segment. Non stop from Honolulu to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, touching down in the amazing Majuro Atoll.
HNL Ready for boarding to MAJ
January 22nd, 2016
UA 154 - HNL - MAJ
B737-824 / N37298
Click to watch the takeoff from HNL: http://youtu.be/nuFxcGawmsI
We boarded our flight, which would be our home for the next fourteen and a half hours, and it seemed as though the rampee’s were having some issues fitting all the baggage and cargo into the hold. The island hopper is responsible for bringing in mail food, and supplies to the islands, and with a full load of passengers, it was a tight fit, and some things were left behind. After what seemed to be quite a bit of scrambling around, I heard the familiar sound of the cargo doors beneath my feet slamming shut, and I knew it was time to go! The main cabin door was closed, and you could feel the pilot release the parking breaks, with enough roll to slightly jerk one back as the aircraft was now resting solely on the push back tug. Within a few seconds we started pushing back, and the pilots started firing up the engines.
Loading the last pieces of baggage and cargo into the hold
Aileron Right - Check / Ready to taxi to 08R
Controls checked, flaps set, we started our long taxi to runway 08R. Approaching the runway, the pilots commanded that flights attendants be seated; we lined up with the runway, the engines start spool-up, and before we know it, we were rocketing down the runway, wings bouncing up and down and in no time, holding our weight with an awesome flex as we start climbing over the beautiful waters of Oahu. Very quickly we bank to the right and continued our climb over the ocean. As we got further from the island, and higher and higher above the ocean, we clean up, gained speed, and are now on a direct path to Majuro.
Taxiing to the runway - Passing a Hawaiian 767
We have liftoff!!!
Climbing out of HNL
On this four and a half hour flight, beverage service started pretty quickly, followed by some snacks. I resorted to some coffee and Baileys. The movie selection was same on the last few flights with, so I was just going through and seeing what would look the least boring to take up this time in this metal tube. I used the map function for most of the flight. Distracting myself by uploading, and editing video footage. After about two hours of flying, and only experiencing Friday January 22nd for nine or so hours, we crossed the date line, and just like that, it was now Saturday the 23rd.
Yummy!!! - Baileys and Coffee
Crossing the International Date Line
Pano shots really show the curvature of the earth!!
I always find it cool loosing or gaining days crossing the pacific. A few more hours had gone by, and with literally nothing but ocean surrounding us, we started our descent. The first time I saw one of the Marshall Atoll’s, I was astonished. So beautiful, so random; I could hardly believe that within the next few minutes, I would be landing on a small airstrip, on one of these true wonders the world. We descended over the Majuro Lagoon, downwind, and made a left hand turn for our base, and once again onto final.
Descending into MAJ
Stunning beaches and water on downwind for MAJ
The Majuro Atoll - Just a few moments from touchdown
As we kept creeping closer and closer to the water, it wasn't until one of the very last seconds, the runway appeared, and touched down. With full reversers rumbling, it seemed the pilot was light on the breaks initially, as (my guess here) the outside air temperature was quite warm, and heating up the brakes may cause a delay if they need additional time too cool. We vacated the runway, and it was a very quick taxi to the stand. The flight was on the ground for about thirty minutes, so I opted to leave the aircraft, and check out the little terminal the airport had. Ahh the weather was amazing! Hot and Humid!! Felt like I was in the Caribbean.
Welcome to Majuro!
Group 1-2 Boarding in Majuro
UA154 Sitting on the ramp at MAJ, getting ready for her next flight to Kwajalein
As our first flight was now complete, and having some time off the aircraft, the agents made the boarding calls for group 1 to Kwajalein, and the other islands en route to Guam. We walk onto the tarmac, to the aircraft, board via an air ramp, and got seated in our original seats. Once again I had planted myself in seat 8F, and it wasn't long until I heard the sound of the cabin door closing, the air conditioning packs turning off, and the rumble of our engines starting up.
Click to watch the Landing in MAJ: http://youtu.be/NTuEq1tWfMI
January 23nd, 2016
UA 154 - MAJ-KWA
B737-824 / N37298
Click to watch the flight video from MAJ-KWA: http://youtu.be/EC_-6orzoTc
It was a relatively short taxi as we backtracked runway 25, so we could depart on our forty-five or so minute flight to Kwajalein. We got to the end of the runway, turned ourselves around and are now lined up for takeoff. The engines start to power up, still with the brakes on, engine power keeps increasing, brakes released, and we start to catapult down the runway. The wings start to flex, and our nose lifts off the ground. We are now airborne, with the wings taking the full weight of our plane. Next stop - Kwajalein.
Getting ready to go!
Lifting off at Majuro - UA154 to Kwajalein
The Majuro Atoll comes into view
As we did a one-eighty through the centre of the atoll, through the Majuro Lagoon, the view is amazing! Beautiful blue colours of water surround the thin strip of beach. It was quite the amazing sight. We reached our cruising altitude and were served a quick drink service.
Climbing overtop the Majuro Lagoon, with a stunning view of the atoll below
Passing an atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands
As this short flight was about two hundred and thirty miles, it was pretty much up and down right away. Approaching Kwajalein, the weather had gotten severely worse, and we were deep into the clouds for the most of our descent. We circled and circled, and in no time, we popped out of the clouds, on short final for the airport. We got lower and lower and closer to the water, our second flight in the hooper was coming close to an end. Both mains planted firmly on the runway, full reversers applied, we have made it to Kwajalein, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
En route to KWA
As we vacated the runway, we were asked to lower the shades to keep the plane cool while on the ground, and we pulled into our stand. As Kwajalein is an active military defence base, this was the only stop we were not allowed to deplane at. They were very strict, with this. No pictures, no nothing. Kwajalein was one place where I couldn't leave any sooner. Not sure if it was because it was a secure military base, or with such strict rules, it was the one and only place where I didn't feel comfortable, and wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.
January 23nd, 2016
UA 154 - KWA-KSA
B737-824 / N37298
Click to watch the flight video from KWA-KSA: http://youtu.be/e4C5NaE-JgM
Thankfully, as this was the hopper, that is exactly what we did. Doors closed, engines fired up, flaps set; we began to taxi to the active. One thing that I thought was really cool about this airport was the fact that they had a golf course right next to the runway. No fences nada. Was a neat sight. We lined up with the runway, and another break-go moment; engines spooled, brakes released, and we start rocketing down the runway. We lift, and can see the land turn to water, and get further away from us. We bank hard to the right, engines now revving even higher, we climb out of the Kwajalein Atoll, and we make our way to the beautiful island of Kosrae!
Rocketing down the runway at Kwajalein - Notice the golf course!!
Climbing out of KWA to KSA
Awesome view of Kwajalein
The flight to Kosrae was relatively uneventful. Once we hit our cruising altitude, it was pretty much time to descend into our third stop on our hopper. Weather around the Kosrae was relatively poor, and was the only stop where we encountered rain. However, this island was insanely beautiful!! The rich, lush jungle was so populated by trees, you could easily forget that this island is inhabited by humans. As we descend through the layers of clouds, the shape of Kosrae comes into view; speed breaks extended, we are slowing, and descending to meet the runway at just the right point.
Approaching Kosrae in a small rainstorm
Seconds before touching down in Kosrae
Welcome to Kosrae!!
Welcome to Kosrae!!
Our landing gear touched down, full reversers deployed, and the massive ROAR of the CFM engines now deflecting our thrust forward to help us slow down. We reach the end of the runway, and we backtrack to the terminal. Like most of these airports, we were the only aircraft on ground, and we attract a small crowd of locals to watch our plane come in! Once parked at the gate, I grabbed my bags and had to take sometime off the plane to enjoy the new scenery. After about twenty minutes on the ground, it was time to board for our next leg to the stunning island of Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia.
January 23nd, 2016
UA 154 - KSA-PNI
B737-824 / N37298
** SUPER HARD LANDING IN
POHNPEI!! Watch the video below!!
Click to watch the flight video from KSA-PNI: http://youtu.be/NRJUDqNT-E0
Once boarding was complete, and all doors closed and secured, the familiar low rumble of our engines starting filled the cabin. Within a few minutes, we were lining up with the runway, full power set, and we start rolling. As we lift off, the most amazing shades of blue water can be seen below with an amazing backdrop of lush forest, which looked right out of a movie. We bank to the left and climb out of Kosrae. We break through the clouds and are now cruising to Pohnpei.
Lifting off from Kosrae, on our way to Pohnpei
Climbing out of KSA - WOW look at that water!!
This was another pretty uneventful flight, I did manage to get some video editing done while having a glass of wine. In no time power to the engines were brought back, and we started our descent into Pohnpei. While looking out of the window, the only thing I could think about was, “WOW - Are you kidding me!”
En route to Pohnpei
We were still at or just above ten thousand on a long downwind for the runway, and could see the island, in almost all of its entirety. Surfing through a few layers of clouds, we make our turn to base, and line up with the runway on our final approach. The water below was showing the most beautiful colours, with ridges of coral and waves breaking over them.
Approaching Pohnpei - Notice PNI's Runway below!!
Waves crashing over the coral reefs below - stunning!
We pass Sokehs Rock, which was breathtaking, and were now just a few hundred feet off the ground. The water gots closer and closer, and the engines spool up, and spool down making quick adjustments to meet this short runway with precision! With an extremely loud bang, and abrupt jolt to the floor, we were slowing down with full reversers in what was one of the hardest ladings I have EVER experienced. WOW what a rush!
Sokehs Rock, seconds before one HARD landing! - Watch the video in the link above
I was sitting adjacent to the onboard mechanic engineer, who was shaking his head, as he now has to inspect the gear from that landing. Once we parked at the gate and disembarked, sure enough, right to the gear he went. Thankfully, Boeings are built tough :P Standing on the ramp, taking in the amazing views, enjoying the nice warm sun, and humid climate, wasn’t even twenty minutes on the ground before it was time to get back on our jet and head to one of our last stops of the hopper; Chuuk.
Backtracking to the terminal
January 23nd, 2016
UA 154 - PNI-TKK
B737-824 / N37298
Click to watch the flight video from PNI-TKK: http://youtu.be/SOinlNs0Guo
We pushed and started from our stand in Pohnpei, and made our way to runway 9 for takeoff. After a short backtrack and turn at the end of the runway, we were lined up all ready for takeoff. We started accelerating, we were up once again, now on our fifth leg of the day, en route to the beautiful island of Chuuk. We climb through the clouds leaving paradise below. At this point, we were friends with the flight attendants, and the whole flying experience was beyond enjoyable.
Takeoff Roll - En route to Chuuk
Climbing out of Pohnpei
Stunning! Coral Reefs surrounding Pohnpei, Micronesia
I fly a lot. Usually with a place or a destination to get to. I often get anxious to get there. On this trip, I learned how to enjoy the whole flying experience. Not saying I don't love flying; I have loved it for as long as I can remember. It just amazed me all over again that we are sitting here in a metal tube, traveling at hundreds of miles an hour, thousands and thousands of feet in the air. What is not to enjoy about that? By this point, I am in paradise. Sitting in 8F, my seat, I was in heaven, and could just keep flying forever.
I had a few more drinks on this flight, and once again, we started our descent into Chuuk. We circled the outer part of the island, making a large right handed base and final turn. We fly over some of the most stunning little uninhabited islands, as we approach the airport. I am in disbelief with what I am seeing. it was amazing. It wasn't before long we had landed (much smoother then the last), and parked at the gate. Chuuk was the only airport that had another aircraft there!!
Stunning little island, approaching Chuuk - I named this island - Avocado Island LOL
Short Final into TKK
Pulling into our stand in Chuuk. Only one more flight
Well into our 12th or 13th hour now, and hanging out in the beautiful afternoon sun at the airport’s outside “lounge-area”, i was so happy. I could really feel the island life, and all I wanted to do was stay, at least for a few days. But, it was that time again, and made our way onboard for our last and final leg of the hopper, flying from Chuuk to Guam.
January 23nd, 2016
UA 154 - TKK-GUM
B737-824 / N37298
Click to watch the flight video from TKK-GUM: http://youtu.be/6m9gaBE1zKM
As our engines start, and the safety video starts playing once again, I had pretty much memorized the whole video by this point. Catchy tune.. for the first few times
We made our way to the runway, takeoff power set, and our last leg of the Pacific Island hopper has officially begun. Climbing out of Chuuk, taking in all the beautiful sights below, I was a little saddened that this was it! I have almost completed the main purpose of this trip. I gained an even greater respect for this world and the beauties she has to offer. All the planning, and waiting for this trip to take place, totally paid off, and as we climbed through the clouds on our short forty five or so minute flight to Guam, I could barely keep a stupid smile off my face.
WOW - Climbing out of Chuuk on our way to Guam
More wine was served on this flight, and the flight attendants gave us some truffle chocolates, in congratulations for completing the island hopper. As we started descending into Guam, the island comes into sight and my first thoughts were: WOW. This is cool!
Thanks for the Truffles United!!
Enjoying the last flight of the hopper! Landing in Guam shortly!
Descending in to Land at GUM
The landscape was so unique, and I cant say I have seen land like that before. Just stunning, especially with the late afternoon sun shining over the land. We circled the outer part of the island as we turn onto a long final for runway 6L
. The closer we got to the airport, the more populated it seemed to get, until it was like we were in any other city. Very cool to see that kind of transition. We touched down, and the deep roar of the reversers fill the cabin. We have made it.
Pulling into the gate in Guam
What a surreal experience!! It was a relatively short taxi to the gate, and parked some thirty minutes early. We were the last to disembark, and after some photos with the crew, and plane, we made our way to customs.
Big THANK YOU to the crew for such a wonderful experience!!
Flight Deck of our 737!!
Once again, having my Nexus and Global Entry, made customs a breeze, and saved quite a bit of time, as there were some long line ups in the hall.
Looking pretty tired at this point LOL - only another 9 hours of flying
Beautiful evening in Guam!!
At this point in the journey, we have been flying for about 14 hours, up for 16, and starting to feel the fatigue of flying across the pacific. We make our way to the United Club lounge where we were contemplating on dropping our segment to Manila, and just resting here in Guam before taking our flight out the next day to Tokyo. After much deliberation, and a few glasses of wine, we were the last to board our flight to Manila, saying good bye to Guam, we will be seeing you again in about nine hours.
January 23nd, 2016
UA 183 - GUM-MNL
B737-824 / N73299
As we were the last to board the flight, and my seat 8F was occupied by two kids and 7D was available, I sacrificed my window, and nighttime video to stretch out and try to take a nap. Our day (or evening at this point) is far from over. We pushed back from our gate, and taxied for what seemed be forever. We were finally up, and on our way to the Philippines. This was the first flight, out of now nine flights that a full meal was served. Not the best meal, but not the worst.
Dinner Service en route to Manila
It was nice to finally get a meal in me as it seemed to have been a while since I snaked. After my meal, I put my seat back and tried to take a little nap. I was out for about an hour, and it wasn't much after that time, the crew was coming around the cabin, preparing it for our arrival into Manila. Peering over from the aisle seat, I can see the lights of this massive city coming into view.
Map - Arriving into MNL
The lights get closer and closer, and we have arrived!!! Once we parked at the gate, and explained to the custom reps at the gate that we were actually going back on this same plane to Guam in about an hour, they took us through a security scanner, and let us go freely back into the secured gate area. We made our way into one of the lounges, and relaxed a bit, yes, having another glass of wine, and just so happy with the progress we have made so far. One more flight, and another 5 or 6 hours, and we can finally get into a bed for some well deserved sleep. (Or so we thought…)
In Manila next to a Qatar 777
I am going to leave it at that for now!! Stay tuned for part 3 where we fly from Manila back to Guam, then off to Tokyo, San Francisco, and home to Vancouver.
Thank you so much for reading!! Hope you have enjoyed my journey so far.
Take a look at some more videos about my hopper experience!
Click here to watch the 6 Takeoff and Landings: http://youtu.be/kNwiyzeF46k
Click here to watch my Island Hopper Trailer: http://youtu.be/uET1bOb-Bx8
Part 3 to come soon!!
[Edited 2016-05-04 23:48:49 by 777ER]