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Politics // The Right Price
Larry Price

Celebrating The Airport’s 50th

I thought there was a disappointing lack of recognition and fanfare for the 50th anniversary of our modern Honolulu International Airport.

(The first Honolulu airport was built in 1927 and named Rodgers Airport, after Navy Cmdr. John Rodgers, who made the first crossing from the Mainland two years earlier.)

Without reliable air service, it is doubtful that the economic growth of Hawaii would be possible.

“Our Department of Transportation and its Airports Division should be very proud of the work they have done to keep up with all the innovation, changes and challenges faced in the industry every day.”

The record shows that in 1959, the year we became a state, jet service to Honolulu began with Qantas Airlines flying from California to Hawaii.

Flight time to Honolulu was reduced from nine hours in propeller planes to five hours for jet service.

Establishing the State Airport System to serve all of its citizens and each island began as a goal of the Territorial Government when aviation was demonstrated to be a viable transportation mode. The system was continued after Statehood when the Airports Division of the Hawaii Transportation was created (Honolulu International Airport -The First 80 Years, Miyamoto, Owen, 1969-1995).

As far as transportation goes, technical innovations in aviation and the will ingness of the government to take advantage of its application for the movement of people from all over the world, to and through Honolulu International Airport, are amazing.

It is quite remarkable when you consider how difficult it is to build anything in Honolulu without years of political wrangling.

A milestone in the development of air transportation was building the reef runway, which was constructed also to be an alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle in case of emergency.

The reef runway also was tested to handle the supersonic Concorde, which I had an opportunity to ride in. Flying at 50,000 feet at Mach 1 speed was incredible. It could leave Oahu and be in Los Angeles in a couple of hours. There was quite a bit of concern about the extra noise and eventually, because of the noise factor, the Concorde slipped from Hawaii’s radar. It spent most of its time flying the rich between New York and Europe. And while the Concorde slipped off the radar screen, it is a signal of what’s to come in the ever-changing world of international air travel.

Our Department of Transportation and its Airports Division should be very proud of the work they have done to keep up with all the innovation, changes and challenges faced in the industry every day.

There is little question that the jet age has made tourism in Hawaii what it is today, and the Department of Transportation’s Airports Division should have received more recognition for its success over the years.

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