the South Ramp
|Great Hawaiian Air Race
The flagman waved the green flag back and forth and then dropped it dramatically, signalling the start of the Great Hawaiian Air Race. Forty-seven aircraft departed Honolulu's Reef Runway en route to Heavenly Hana via an exciting and challenging 233 nm race course that took them to Moloka'i, Lana'i, Kaho'olawe, Molokini, Lahaina, Kalaupapa, and Mokuho'oniki (Elephant Rock). Led by the fastest, the stream of aircraft fought headwinds and absolutely gorgeous weather to reach the end of Day 1 at Hana. There, the racers were welcomed with open arms by virtually the entire community. Welcoming signs were posted around town, and local folks stopped to give the smiling racers rides. Activities included tours of the spectacular hei'au and botanical gardens, as well as the Lindbergh house and his grave site. Thanks to the generosity of Chevron and Bob Fraker at Air Service, we had a fuel truck at Hana, and most didn't have to refuel where we aren't welcome (Kahului). Coila Eades, head of the Hana Cultural Center, hosted a magnificent luau at her spectacular place overlooking the swirling surf, and Willy Schauer and Clint Churchill each demonstrated their own unique brand of aerial mastery with a superb aerobatic show.
Day 2 began with a breakfast briefing by the pool at the Hotel Hana Maui and departure to southeast toward Upolu Point. Again, the weather cooperated, as some scuddy showers stayed just south of the race route. Whale sightings abounded as the racers worked their way back along Maui's south shores, over to the larger shipwreck on Lana'i's north shore, and back along the south shore of Moloka'i and La'au Point to O'ahu. There, the racers coursed up the east side, around Kahuku and Ka'ena Point, completing the 485nm trek at Ford Island. Sadly, the 47 aircraft parked at Ford Island marked the end of an era, as that field is slated to close soon. The racers got to feel and taste the history that Ford Island is steeped in, with tours of the USS Missouri, the USS Arizona, USS Utah, and, of course, just walking on that flight line under the shadow of the towers and structures that were present when the last major aviation event occurred there, in December, 1941. Again, thanks to Air Service, all the racers were refueled at Ford Island prior to departing for Honolulu International. The glorious sunset washed the racers in gold at the cocktail party at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where we were treated to a really good buffet. Over thirty awards were presented to deserving crews. (See below).
Racers at Hana
Flyers came from 22 states and Australia, teaming up with local folk, racing everything from C-150s to an L-13A. We had Mooneys, Senecas, Arrows, Archers, Cardinals, Skyhawks, Warriors, Cherokees, a Comanche, a Saratoga, a Cutlass, a Maule, an Aztec, a Twin Comanche, a C-310, a Sundowner, a Bird Dog, an RV-4, an Extra 300L, a Lance, a Bonanza, and a Golden Eagle. Forty-six aircraft in the race and one tag-along and all but one made it (the L-13A had to stop at Kalaupapa when the radial Lycoming decided to redecorate the fuselage and windshield with processed dinosaur goo). They came from all but one of the flight schools in the state, as well as private hangars and tie-downs. They came from O'ahu, Maui and the Big Island.
The Great Hawaiian Air Race raised about $20,000 net for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Hawai'i, making it a win-win situation for all (even those who didn't place high in the race). Support from local and mainland businesses in terms of prizes (over $16,000) and donations was heartwarming. Honolulu Tower, Flight Service, CERAP, and Flight Standards on the Federal side all provided excellent support to the race, and on the State side, the Honolulu Airport manager and staff, the UNICOM operator at Ford Island, and the airport supervisors at Hana did a fantastic job to help GHAR work out so well. Although we were worried about putting some 50 aircraft at Hana, we actually could have fit another 40, thanks to the hard work of Gerald Mahadocon and Daryl Ribao. Pat Magie and the entire Island Seaplane Service crew put on a magnificent breakfast on race day for everyone--a great way to start a great event! Others who worked tirelessly include the CAP (aircraft parking and marshalling and security), the USCG Auxiliary, with air and sea patrols. Carter Davis flew an early morning weather recce flight to Hana and then reported back to us before takeoff on Saturday, and then flew high cover/radio relay during the race. He put in over 7 hours in the air to help out! A lot of people worked very hard to make the largest aviation event in memory a resounding success.
Interestingly, there were 20 rated women pilots/copilots in the 46 teams--much higher than the overall percentage of women pilots in the general pilot population. Sixty percent of the winning teams were combinations of Hawai'i pilots (local knowledge) and mainland pilots (racing experience). Forty percent of those placing in the top ten were first-time racers.
To see the final standings, click the link to see the 1999 Great Hawaiian Air Race page.
This was a 485 nm course, and there was quite a spread in elapsed times, as you might expect. The quickest (these are raw times only and do not indicate anything other than relative speed) was the Maui C-310R, in 2:44:42 from flag drop at HNL to crossing the finish line at Ford Island. That's an average speed of 177.98 knots. Interestingly, he handicapped at 179.81 knots (full throttle, max RPM). Clint's Extra 300L handicapped at 171.10 knots and had a raw average speed (without penalty points) of 170.07. The Cutlass RG (Anderson Aviation's) handicapped at 129.03 knots and averaged about 128.54 knots. Looking at the top ten finishers, their average speeds and their handicapped speeds were quite close--three knots or less. This tends to validate the handicapping methods used as well as the skill of the pilots in coming so close or even exceeding the handicap speed. Of course, exceeding the handicap speed is the object of the speed race. I mentioned penalty points. They were awarded for a number of infractions, including being too far from a check point (or missing it entirely). Here, we relied heavily on the disposable cameras that were issued to each crew. One race crew actually would have won had stray fingers not obscured checkpoint photos. Aimee and Evelyn flew the course in 6:40:26, averaging 72.95 knots in a C-172 (15 knots slower than one of the 150's!). They missed their estimated elapsed time by a whopping 26 seconds and their fuel burn by just over a gallon, justly earning themselves first place in proficiency. Twenty-six seconds over 485.9 nm! OK, so who took the longest to complete the course? Predictably, a C-150. One had a raw elapsed time of 7:23:23, for an average speed (?) of 65.8 knots. Two things to note here: first, they were not racing for speed, and second, and most importantly, they recognized that a C-150 is range-challenged, especially in 20 - 25 kt headwinds, and had the good sense to put into Kahului for fuel en route to and from Hana. That astute bit of decision-making in spite of the pressure of being in a race, is precisely why Missy and Janet got the Special Airmanship Award. To paraphrase Barry Schiff's succinct observation, in five years, it won't matter whether they won or even finished the GHAR. But it surely matters that they survived to fly again.
I can't remember when I've had so much fun flying. The three of us in my Seneca laughed the entire race course, both days. I also can't remember when I've seen so many broad grins on so many people in one place as I saw at Hana. Those of you who missed the inaugural Great Hawaiian Air Race will have the opportunity to join in the fun next year. GHAR 2000, February 18 - 21, 2000, already has 28 racers signed up! Get your bid in early for your number. Stay tuned--we'll keep the web site up and current. (www.flyhawaii.com/GHAR.html)
LAHSO Comes Up Short
Short For years you've heard controllers clear you to land and hold short of an intersecting runway. This has been done to expedite the flow of traffic under the Simultaneous Operations to Intersecting Runways (SOIR) program that's been in existence since 1968 at some 220 airports across the country. An extension of SOIR has been Land And Hold Short Operations (LAHSO), in effect at HNL, OGG, and ITO. Under LAHSO, you've always had the option to decline the hold short instruction.
In a classic case of shooting oneself in the foot, the Air Line Pilots Association and the FAA have battled over LAHSO, with the net result that, effective March 12, 1999, no Hawaii airports will be authorized for LAHSO for FAR Part 121 carriers (that's the airlines). Since the aforementioned carriers make up about 60% of the traffic at HNL, things are going to change for everyone. Similar changes can be expected at OGG, and to a lesser degree, at ITO. GA will continue to participate in LAHSO, but the airlines won't.
If the controllers can no longer clear simultaneous arrivals and/or departures to intersecting runways with a hold short instruction, they'll have to find other means of keeping everyone apart. Simultaneous operations go away, and that will mean delays. Delays to arrivals will be due to vectoring, speed control, spacing, and any other tools necessary to sequence aircraft so they are not arriving when someone else is arriving/departing an intersecting runway. Delays for departures will occur because an aircraft cannot take off when there is an arrival to an intersecting runway. To smooth the flow, airlines will often have to go out to the Reef Runway because 8L will be a primary arrival runway. There will likely be fewer Channel approaches to 8L at HNL for the interisland carriers. The capacity to handle aircraft movements at HNL will be cut in half, and I expect a similar effect at OGG.
How does all this impact General Aviation (and I purposely include all Part 135 operators as well)? Delays. Expect to wait longer to take off. Expect vectoring while airborne, and expect fewer practice approaches. Expect to hear more requests from ATC for short approaches and extended downwinds. Also, expect to hold clear of the Honolulu Class B from time to time for sequencing. Thus, expect the H1-H2 Interchange to become even busier during peak hours. Student pilots should be ready to advise ATC of their status if they don't feel up to the ATC challenge. Instructors will have even more opportunities to share their knowledge and techniques with their students.
Might this change? Maybe, to some extent. Only 32 airports have been cleared for LAHSO with Part 121 carriers across the country, and HNL was not among them. That exclusion is currently under review. Should HNL eventually be approved for LAHSO, the carriers will still not take off or land in conjunction with a GA aircraft on an intersecting runway.
We're all going to have to get used to doing things differently at our major airports, and it's going to cost some folks a lot of money in the long run. Moreover, the controller's job just got immeasurably more difficult. Patience and restraint will be the order of the day. Rather than polish rough spots in an otherwise sound program, they've fixed something that wasn't broke. Often, when that happens, the pieces roll downhill. The splatter is going to cover a lot of folks.
H1/H2 Interchange, South Practice Area Procedures
After yet another close encounter of the worst kind, a collective "we" decided to meet at the FSDO, under GACH sponsorship, and see if we could come up with procedures for operating in the South Practice Area and H1/H2 Interchange on O'ahu. Representatives from all the O'ahu flight schools were invited to attend and share their collective wisdom. Here's what we came up with:
With Kalaeloa becoming a State airport on July 1, 1999, the DoT has decided to cease civil flight operations at Ford Island on the same day. We were hoping for several months of transition, since the Navy won't be tearing up the tarmac for some time. The state, however, is concerned with operating costs for both fields simultaneously. Check your NOTAMs...
Airport Support Network
AOPA is looking for representatives to their Airport Support Network (ASN). As an ASN rep for a specific airport, you monitor the goings on and provide a heads-up to AOPA when things aren't right. Merle Martin is the ASN rep for Kona, and I'm the one for HNL. The ASN is relatively new and hopefully will help us get the full weight and power of AOPA when we need it. They've been appraised of the major issues in Hawaii, and we'll continue to udpate them and enlist their support. It would be very useful, of course, if all the ASN reps worked in concert, since we all have the same landlord/overlord here. GACH is the logical focal point, and as such, again request your input on issues affecting you at any airport in the state. You can phone or fax to me at (808) 836-1031, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in the Saddle, Again
After about three months' of crutches and not being able to fly, it looks like I'll be rejoining you all in the skies again. I'd like to thank all of you who were so supportive and patient with me. Let's go flying!
Another pilot has paid the fullest price after ditching a few hundred miles off Maui. John Carlson was ferrying a C-210 to the mainland when he apparently developed engine trouble and couldn't make it to land. He ditched while a USCG HC-130 circled, but he apparently never egressed the airplane. Ferry pilots often get the same reaction (raised eyebrows and rolled eyes) that skydivers do, for some of the same reasons. The risk is clearly higher. An airplane equipped for ferry with additional fuel tanks is a different creature from the one you normally fly around. It's much heavier, for one, and that has a marked effect on performance and handling. There's also a lot more to come loose in a sudden stop, and egress may well be physically compromised. The ferry pilot is a key part of our industry. It's a difficult job and the price is high when things don't go the way they should. Our sympathies go out to John's family and friends, and our hats are off to those of you who ferry airplanes over vast stretches of our globe.
Be careful out there.