I read in the May COPA Flight, with nostalgia and a bit of envy, the account by Lowell Breckon of his flying adventure over Hawaii in December 2007. I attempted a similar adventure in March 1980 during a Hawaiian vacation as one of a group of Saguenay neighbours. My results were different than Lowell's.
Armed with a U.S. Licence issued on the basis of my Canadian one endorsed for Single-Engine Land, I presented myself at the Hawaii Air Academy at Honolulu to enquire about the possibility of renting a C172 for an aerial tour of the islands. My intention was to invite a guest or two to join me for a flight some time later during our three week stay at Waikiki. My logged pilot hours at the time was 700 hours so I felt reasonably confident of my competence to do this. After a check out ride of an hour, including a touch and go on Ford Island Naval Air Station, Robert Lindberg, CFI, endorsed my log book "172 check out OK for day VFR." However, by then I had revised my self confidence downward and decided against flying unsupervised in the HNL environment. The radio communication maze at this very active airport was daunting and the severe turbulence would mean an ordeal rather than a treat for any non-pilot that I might invite along for a ride. A seat booked on one of the commercial aerial tours offered over the Hawaiian Islands was a next best choice. These were daily flights in Beech 18 size aircraft flown by pilots acting as tour guides between communications with air traffic. Departing the morning of my reservation, we were back on Honolulu within some 20 minutes, the flight having been aborted over Kaiwi Channel due to heavy showers obscuring the islands that we were meant to see farther east. A second try was proposed for the next day but our group was scheduled to depart for Canadian shores the same day so I declined another ride.
Another chapter to the adventure was added when, in a tourist brochure, I found that glider rides were offered at Dillingham Airfield on the north shore of Oahu. Tucked snugly in the gliders back seat with a younger brother, an active airline captain, we were towed aloft at Dillingham and enjoyed a 20 minute glide in the updraft of the ocean wind blowing against the coastal mountains. We were as surprised to find that we had a retired airline captain as our glider pilot as he was to find that he had two pilots as passengers. The flight then took on the nature of a demonstration of the impressive gliding potentials in the permanent updrafts found in this area.
And there is a postlude. When I became the owner of a FS2000 my first trial with the software was in a simulated C172 from HNL to Dillingham Airfield, counter clockwise around the Oahu coast. Due to having yet to read the FS2000 operating instructions I had to accept a simulated crash at destination as although I found the Dillingham Airfield I had not learned how to control outside visibility well enough to get lined up on final approach.