Aviation grew during the 1930s with the trans-Pacific flights of Amelia Earhart and Charles Kingsford Smith, the introduction of Pan American Airways into the islands, the construction of new airfields by the military, and the continued improvements to John Rodgers Field.
CHRONOLOGY OF AVIATION IN HAWAII
Edward H. Peacock was appointed Superintendent of Territorial Airports.
The U.S. Weather Bureau established weather reporting stations at Hilo, Laupahoehoe, Kukuihaele, Maalaea and Port Allen. This step constituted the first expenditure of federal money in Hawaii in the interest of commercial aviation.
1930 (12 July)
Governor Lawrence M. Judd approved the first Territorial Airport Rules and Regulations.
1930 (28 Sept)
The Territory of Hawaii was given control of Army airports at Port Allen and Upolo Point.
During the first year of operation, Inter-Island Airways flew a total of 275,574 miles and carried 10,355 passengers; 18,680 pounds of express was carried.
Commercial air service was established to Lanai by Inter-Island Airways, using Sikorsky S-38 eight-passenger amphibian planes.
A sum of $24,000 was spent on clearing and grading for a crosswind runway at John Rodgers Airport.
$15,000 was appropriated for purchase of land at Port Allen, Kauai to establish an airport. The Army Air Corps named the installation Burns Field.
The Army had two pursuit squadrons, the 6th and 19th, and an attack squadron, the 26th, at Wheeler. Airmen took part in annual fleet maneuvers and made a mass flight, sending 16 planes from Luke Field to Hilo.
1931 (28 June)
Alfred Smith set a Hawaiian soaring record of 25 minutes 30 seconds in a glider built at Punahou School by Smith and Dick Wescott.
World record glider flight (endurance and distance) by 2nd. Lt. William A. Cooke of Wheeler. Time: 21 hours, 34 minutes, 15 seconds. Traveled an estimated 600 miles.
Glider clubs were formed at Ford Island, Luke Field, Wheeler Field and in Honolulu. Constant “up currents” were available in Windward Oahu and the slopes back of Schofield.
The crosswind coral runway at John Rodgers Airport was extended to 2,200 feet in length.
The Territorial Legislature appropriated $35,000 for an airstrip at Wailua, Kauai. Inter-Island Airways schedules were increased to three a week, serving both Wailua and Port Allen. With the advent of S-43 and DC-3 aircraft on the run, operations were shifted back to Port Allen, which remained Kauai’s terminal until World War II when Port Allen closed and Kauai was served through the Army Air Corps field at Barking Sands.
In about 1931 land was leased by the Navy in Ewa for a mooring mast for the Dirigibles Akron and Macon. The mast was built but the airships were destroyed in crashes on the mainland. No airships ever came to Hawaii. The land was later part of Ewa Marine Corps Air Station.
The military air component in Hawaii consisted of 7 tactical squadrons and 2 service squadrons.
1932 (22 April)
Governor Lawrence M. Judd approved Act 17, Special Session of the Territorial Legislature, 1932, which amended sections of the Revised Laws of Hawaii 1925 as amended by Act 238, Session Laws 1927, to abolish the Territorial Aeronautical Commission and transfer the powers and duties of the Commission to the Superintendent of Public Works.
1932 (1 Dec)
Pan American Airways announced plans for service to Hawaii.
Andrew Flying Service inaugurated non-scheduled flights between the main airports in the Territory, as well as the smaller airports that could not be served by the scheduled airlines. One principal service of this carrier was to Kalaupapa Leper Settlement.
1933 (19 April)
First mass seaplane flight from Hawaii to French Frigate Shoals, 759 miles, made by U.S. Navy. Returned via Gardiner Pinnacle, 8 hours, 10 minutes.
1934 (30 July)
Aloha flight for President Franklin D. Roosevelt by combined total of 58 Army and Navy planes.
The Army opened five auxiliary air fields: Putnam at Fort Shafter, Bellows near Waimanalo; Burns at Port Allen, Kauai; Suiter at Upolu Point, and Morse at South Point, both on the Big Island. Each field was named for an American airman killed flying combat in France in 1918.
1934 (10 Jan)
The Navy made a mass flight of six Consolidated P2Y-1 seaplanes from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor without incident in 24 hours, 45 minutes.
1934 (18 May)
Women pilots formed a Hawaii aviatrix club.
1934 (26 May)
Hamoa Airport, Hana, Maui dedicated.
Plans were approved for Hickam construction. The Army Quartermaster was charged with the largest peacetime task: converting 2,200 acres of cane fields and algarroba into a Army air base. The estimated cost was $15 million, including building of repair shops for all aircraft. Specifications called for 200,000 tons of concrete, 20 miles of road, and 90 miles of cable. The Base was to be the home of a Wing and an Air Depot. (At that time a Wing consisted of Headquarters Squadron, 4 bomber squadrons, and a service squadron: 57 bomber planes and 4 cargo ships). Plans included 3,000 man barracks (Hale Makai) with mess hall, kitchen, pastry shop, office space, laundry, barber shops and other concessions.
1934 (8 Sept)
Air licenses were held by 75 Hawaii residents.
1934 (19 Sept)
Inter-Island Airways received a contract from the Post Office Department to carry airmail between Honolulu, Maui, Hilo and Kauai. The route was designated as Route 33. This was a very important milestone in air service to the neighbor islands.
1934 (8 Oct)
The first Inter-Island Airways air mail flight took place on October 8, 1934.
1934 (3 Nov)
Charles Kingsford-Smith made the first eastbound flight from Hawaii to California as the last leg of his eastward crossing of the Pacific from Australia. His single-engine Lockheed Altair aircraft Lady Southern Cross made the trip in 15 hours, a little over half what it had taken him in 1928.
1934 (16 Nov)
Japan announced plans for air line service over the Pacific via Hawaii.
An Australian twin-engine aircraft coming from California with a crew of three was lost at sea just short of Hawaii.
Pan American Airways announced a plan to build four large Sikorsky Flying Boats for use on a proposed California-Hawaii-Manila-China route.
An airstrip at Kalaupapa was opened on Molokai. It was served by Inter-Island Airways. Service was begun using S-38 Sikorsky eight-passenger amphibian aircraft. When the company changed its equipment to the larger S-43s and DC-3s, they found Kalaupapa too small and too rough for their use.
1934 (27 Dec)
When the ocean liner Lurline arrived in Honolulu Harbor on December 27, 1934 it carried Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed Vega plane. Speculation was rampant that she would attempt a flight to the Mainland, but she insisted that she was in Hawaii for a vacation and brought her plane to fly between islands.
1935 (11 Jan)
Amelia Earhart flew her Vega from Wheeler Field to Oakland, California in 18 hours, 17 minutes arriving on January 12, 1935. She was the first pilot to fly solo between Hawaii and the Mainland.
1935 (20 Feb)
The Hawaiian Air Depot at Luke Field on Ford Island was outgrowing its facilities and so 2,225 acres of land and fishponds adjacent to John Rodgers Airport and Fort Kamehameha was purchased by the United States Army from the Bishop, Damon and Queen Emma Estates for a new air depot and air base at a cost of $1,095,543.78. It was the largest peacetime military construction project in the United States and went on through 1941. During 1935, a $1 million condemnation suit by lease holders of Watertown was filed. The court ruled on December 9, 1935 that terms of the original leases were clear and contained a clause whereby interest in leaseholds ceased when property was condemned in public interest.
1935 (16 Apr)
Pan American airways commenced survey flights to Hawaii with a view toward establishing regular trans-Pacific passenger service. On April 16, 1935, the first survey flight took off from San Francisco Bay in a Sikorsky S-42 seaplane with Captain Musick, veteran PAA pilot, at the controls. The flight to Pearl Harbor was made in 17 hours 14 minutes. This flight was the beginning of an orderly development of Pacific air transportation. Clippers were initiated into the Pacific via Hawaii, Midway, Wake, Guam and Manila to Hong Kong. Pan Am acquired both Sikorsky S-42 and Martin 130 flying boats with the S-42 arriving on April 17. Survey flights followed to Midway, Wake and Guam and a ship with construction crews, materials and equipment to build seaplane bases and hotel facilities.
1935 (31 May)
Hickam Field was dedicated. It was named for Lt. Col. Horace M. Hickam, C.O., 3rd Attack Group, who was killed Nov. 5, 1934 at Fort Crockett, Texas.
1935 (27 Aug)
Alfred W. Smith and Charles K. Okina made first plane landing in Kona.
Clearing and construction of Hickam began.
1935 (22 Nov)
On November 22, 1935 Pan Am inaugurated regular trans-Pacific air service to Hawaii with a Martin M-130, the China Clipper, from Alameda, California to the Pearl City Peninsula in 21 hours and 20 minutes. This was the first scheduled air mail flight across the Pacific to go all the way to Manila and Hong Kong. Pan Am operations were conducted from a company base at Pearl City. The first service was provided by Martin Clippers which were augmented in 1941 by larger Boeing Clippers. Postmaster General Farley came from Washington to witness what he characterized as “the beginning of the most significant achievement in the development of air transportation.”
1935 (27 Dec)
The Mauna Loa lava flow was diverted by waterworks at Hilo, Hawaii, by aerial bombardment by Navy amphibian planes. About this time, Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island erupted and sent lava toward Hilo. Army B-4 Bombers were requested by Dr. Thomas Jagger director of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to bomb the lava tubes and disperse the flow away from Hilo. The effort worked but two of the aircraft crashed at Luke Field on landing.
Inter-Island Airways started to replace their nine-passenger Sikorsky S-38 amphibians with larger Sikorsky S-43 amphibians and in 1941 this equipment was replaced by Douglas DC-3 landplanes. In the change over to DC-3s and to demonstrate the safety of land planes in over-water flying, the first three DC-3s were flown in formation from San Francisco to Honolulu. The flight was made in 14 hours, 52 minutes. Due to the size of the planes, and when the last of the S-38s were phased out, air service to Lanai ceased.
The U.S. Army established a radio station at Molokai Airport, and moved it to a new location in 1938.
Planning was initiated for seaplane runways in Keehi Lagoon.
Work at John Rodgers Airport in the 1935-37 time-frame involved $38,000 in WPA funds and included extending the coral runways to 4,000 feet and 3,500 feet. Prison labor was also involved. Some 100,000 gallons of crude oil was obtained from Pearl Harbor to put on the runways for a prelude to macadam and for dust control.
1936 (15 Jan)
The Navy Hydrographic Office published a Naval Air Pilot for the Pacific Islands in January 1936 as a confidential document. It had detailed maps and photographs of all the airfields and seaplane anchorages in Hawaii. The most important anchorages were listed as Pearl Harbor, Kaneohe, Hilo, Kahului, Lahaina, Nawiliwili, Ahukini and Port Allen. The most important landing fields were listed as Luke Field, Wheeler Field, John Rodgers Airport, Hilo, Maalaea, Hana, Lanai City, Molokai (Homestead), Port Allen and Wailua, Kauai.
The Works Progress Administration conducted wind studies on an alternate site at Puunene, because Maalaea‘s field was too small and its proximity to the mountains of West Maui rendered it unsafe.
1936 (21 Oct)
Pan American initiated regular six-day weekly passenger service between San Francisco and Manila via Honolulu.
Brigadier General Billy Mitchell had a discussion with President Roosevelt about his Defense Survey of Hawaii of 1924. Mitchell predicted that Japan had military designs on Hawaii and would strike a blow at Pearl Harbor on a quiet Sunday morning when the harbor was full of ships. Mitchell died in February, 1936 five years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The value of forward bases was recognized. The Navy flew to Midway, 500 miles from Pearl Harbor, to establish a temporary base.
Governor Poindexter requested the Department of Air Commerce to send an engineer to Hawaii to advise the Territory in its airport program. Robert L. Campbell was assigned.
There was a large increase in interisland travel. Inter-Island Airways had operated for seven years with S-38 amphibians without accident. They now had four S-43 aircraft which carried 16 passengers each. Two S-38s were kept for charters and flights to smaller airports.
Amelia Earhart returned to Wheeler Field from Oakland in a Lockheed Electra. She made the flight in 15 hours and 47 minutes and was on the first leg of an around the world flight financed by Purdue University.
1937 (20 March)
Amelia Earhart had to abort takeoff when the right tire of her plane blew out, the landing gear collapsed and the aircraft was heavily damaged. She took the aircraft back to California by ship and eventually decided to try the around the world flight eastward from Florida to Africa and on to New Guinea. Her plane was lost near Howland Island and whether she and her Navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured remains one of the mysteries of the Pacific.
1937 (1 Sept)
The first detachment of 12 men arrived at Hickam Field (31st Bomb Squadron) from Ford Island. They lived in tents. 1st Lt. Robert Warren, commander.
1937 (30 Oct)
The 18th Composite Wing was redesignated the 18th Wing, Air Corps. Headquarters did not move to Hickam from Ft. Shafter until Oct 30, 1938.
1937 (20 Nov)
Col. H. C. Kress Muhlenberg named 18th Wing Commander.
Pan American opened up a route to New Zealand through American Samoa but the Samoan Clipper along with pioneering Captain Ed Musick and crew became lost near Tutuila.
Ford Island had a new 3,000 foot concrete runway which would be better for takeoff for planes heavily loaded with fuel.
Before 1937, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) expended $34,148 on the landing area at Hilo Airport, and in 1937, WPA funds were used to begin an accelerated airport development program. From 1937 to 1941, $261,613 was invested in Hilo Airport. The expansion of Hilo Airport in 1938 required relocation of the prison camp and the hangar and office of Inter-Island Airways.
Suiter Field (Upolu Point) was maintained by the Territory of Hawaii with funds from the Federal Emergency Recovery Act and Works Progress Administration prior to 1937. From 1937 to 1939, additional WPA funds were expended in extending the runway to 3,500 feet and in making other improvements.
The WPA spent $127,000 on various projects in clearing, grading and paving at Port Allen Airport.
The Chief Inspector, Bureau of Air Commerce, condemned Maalaea Airport. A temporary permit was granted to allow use of Maalaea by small aircraft only. Since construction did not start at Puunene Airport until June 1, 1938, Maui was without adequate air service until Puunene was opened.
1938 (8 Feb)
B-18 Bombers were brought to Hickam Field.
1938 (1 June)
Construction started on Puunene Airport.
1938 (7 Sept)
A mass flight of 17 U.S. Navy planes from San Diego to Hawaii, 2,570 miles, was completed in 17 hours and 21 minutes.
1938 (15 Sept)
Hickam Field was officially activated. The Hawaiian Air Depot began its move from Luke Field with approximately 600 men.
Maui Airport at Puunene opened, replacing the airstrip at Maalaea which the Civil Aeronautics Authority had declared unsafe.
Marguerite Gambo opened a flying school at John Rodgers Airport and built a hangar adjacent to the Inter-Island Airways hangar.
Port Allen shared air service with an airport at Wailua but in 1938, the CAA found Wailua unsafe for larger aircraft and all operations were moved back to Port Allen. Port Allen served Inter-Island Airways until its closure at the outbreak of World War II.
The K-T Flying Service began operating from John Rodgers Airport.
1939 (23 Jan)
Luke Field was made a sub-post of Hickam Field.
1939 (16 June)
Inter-Island Airways was awarded a CAB Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, in accordance with the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, to operate as a scheduled carrier between the then existing terminals on its route. The certificate was later amended to allow operation between the major airports on all of the islands for the purpose of carrying passengers, cargo and air mail.
1939 (30 June)
Puunene Airport was gradually enlarged and improved. The Navy took over Puunene during the war and expanded it further.
1939 (31 Aug)
Wheeler Field became a separate permanent post.
Construction began on a new naval base at Mokapu Peninsula in Kaneohe. The project included extensive dredging for seaplane runways. Work was conducted under a Pacific Naval Air Base contract.
1939 (1 Nov)
All Air Corps activities formerly at Luke Field, with the exception of the Hawaiian Air Depot, had completed the move to Hickam Field. Luke Field ceased to exist as an Army post. The Hawaiian Air Depot completed its move to Hickam on September 13, 1940.
1939 (24 Nov)
Two Air Base Commands were established under jurisdiction of Commanding General, 18th Wing: 1) 17th Air Base Command at Hickam, composed of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, 18th Wing and 5-11th Bomb Groups. 2) 18th Pursuit group and 4th and 5th Recon. Sq. at Wheeler.
Robert L. Campbell of the Department of Air Commerce returned to Hawaii at the request of Governor Poindexter to work with the U.S. Engineers in connection with the design and construction of the Keehi Lagoon seaplane project. A federal appropriation of $9 million had been authorized for development of this and other Territorial airports.