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1950-1959

Increased commercial air travel and the Korean War Airlift placed major stresses on the terminal facilities at Honolulu Airport and plans were begun for a new terminal on the North side of the airport. A new terminal at Lihue opened. The first jet service came to Hawaii.

CHRONOLOGY OF AVIATION IN HAWAII

1950 (3 Jan)

Pan American Airways made the first commercial non-stop flight from Tokyo to Honolulu in a B377 Stratocruiser.

1950 (8 Jan)

Lihue Airport was dedicated.  The terminal building cost $97,223.  The water system cost $55,564.

1950 (4 April)

Night schedules to Lihue Airport began with installation of rotating beacon and obstruction lights on Kalepa and Carter's Points.

1950 (May)

To keep cattle off the operating area at Kona Airport, approximately 5,000 feet of fencing were installed.

1950 (30 June)

The Korean War had a great impact on Honolulu Airport.  The number of aircraft landings increased from 6,900 in June 1950 to 8,600 in July 1950.

The invasion of South Korea by North Korean forces also resulted in increased airlift activity for PACD-MATS, which was required to operate for the first time under wartime conditions.  At Hickam there was a conglomeration of C-97s, C-74s, C-54s, R-5Ds, C-46s, C-47s in every stage of loading, unloading and maintenance.

1950 (Aug)

A contract was let for the construction of a freight terminal and maintenance shop at Lihue Airport.

1950 (11 Nov)

A dedication ceremony was held for the new Hana Airport.  The land was owned by the Territory and Hana Ranch.  The airport occupied 125 acres and had a single runway, 8-26, 100 feet wide and 3,600 feet long, a passenger terminal and a freight terminal, paved runway and taxiways, and paved plane parking.  The cost was $419,160.  Old Hana Airport at Hamoa was returned to the Commissioner of Public Lands.

1950 (4 Dec)

A Pan American Strato Clipper set a new commercial air record for a flight between Honolulu and Los Angeles by making the trip in 7 hours and 20 minutes.

1950

The Civil Aeronautics Administration installed a “VOR” beacon near Upolu Airport and the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission installed temporary runway lights and a rotating beacon.

1951 (7 Feb)

An area of about 104 acres of the Hickam Field reservation was leased by the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission for 20 years. This lease enabled the Commission to pave a 540-foot connecting link with the new Hickam extension to runway 8-26, making a runway 200 feet wide and 13,104 feet long.  Runway 8-26 was one of the world’s longest runways.  HNL was the third busiest airport in the U.S. at that time.

1951 (9 April)

The Hawaii Aeronautical Commission approved preliminary plans for a new airport at Kamuela.

1951 (11 April)

Act 3 of the Territorial Legislature changed the name of Honolulu Airport to Honolulu International Airport.

1951 (April)

Improvements were made to the main entrance and access road at General Lyman Field.

1951 (25 May)

The Hawaii Aeronautics Commission decided to move Maui's main airport from Puunene to Kahului effective May 25, 1951.  To make Kahului usable for commercial airline operations, a passenger terminal was constructed, a shop building was remodeled to produce an air freight building with refrigeration facilities, a passenger protection fence, rotating beacon, and runway lights were installed, obstruction lights erected and paving repairs undertaken.  Paving of a new entrance to the automobile parking lot was completed and small aircraft hangars opened.

1951 (25 July)

A small paved warm-up apron was constructed at Kalaupapa Airport.  This eliminated the warm-up area problems but did nothing for the runway problems.

1951 (26 July)

A passenger terminal/rest house was completed at Kalaupapa Airport.

1951 (Sept)

Temporary runway lights at Lihue Airport were replaced by medium intensity runway lights and a fully automatic emergency generating system.

1951 (Oct)

Bids were called for the first phase of construction of Waimea-Kohala Airport to include grading, paving of a runway, fencing and water supply to the airport.

1951 (31 Dec)

Due to increased air operations in support of our military forces in Korea, HNL ranked third in the United States in aircraft operations.

1951

Temporary runway lights and a rotating beacon were constructed at Kona Airport.

1952 (15 Jan)

The Marine Corps re-commissioned the idle airfield Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, making it an ideal training site for a combined air/ground team. Station Operations and Headquarters Squadron supported flight operations until June 30, 1972, when Station Operations and Maintenance Squadron was commissioned in its place.

1952 (20 Feb)

Construction began on Kamuela Airport.

1952 (8 April)

General Lyman Field was returned to civilian control of the Territory of Hawaii by the Federal Government.

1952 (15 April)

The property on which Molokai Airport was located was returned to the Territory.  A rotating beacon, obstruction lights and flashing hazard beacons were installed.

1952 (19 June)

Lei seller stands near the main entrance at HNL on Lagoon Drive were completed.

1952 (24 June)

Full commercial airline operations were being conducted at Kahului Airport and Puunene was abandoned.

1952 (17 July)

Ground was broken for a new terminal at General Lyman Field, Hilo.

1952 (Oct)

The runway and taxiway at Lihue Airport were lengthened from 3,750 feet to 5,100 feet so Convair 340 aircraft could land.

1952 (28 Dec)

Construction was initiated for Kamuela Airport.

1952 (31 Dec)

Air passengers to Hawaii reached 153,598 in 1952, compared to 63,055 in 1947.

1952

An air freight building was constructed at Lanai Airport.

1952

Increased passenger flow and the necessity of housing increased CAA and Weather Bureau activities at Lihue Airport led to alterations and extension of the terminal at a cost of $110,122.

1952

A new maintenance area was constructed at General Lyman Field and a contract was let for high intensity lights on Runway 8-26.

1952

Wheeler AFB was reactivated and by 1957 had a population of 1,884, including 216 Army and 500 Navy personnel.

1953 (April)

Construction began on the new terminal for Waimea-Kohala Airport.

1953 (June)

The Hawaii Aeronautics Commission asked the Hawaii Public Works Department to become its planning agency as well as supervising airport contracts.

1953 (30 June)

The Hawaii Aeronautics Commission delegated supervision of $1.17 million of airport contracts to Hawaii Pubic Works.  In the preceding year, an additional $512,739 worth of airport work was underway.

1953 (2 July)

Scheduled air service to Kamuela Airport began with three flights weekly.

1953 (2 July)

Scheduled air service began at Waimea-Kohala Airport.

1953 (July)

Morse Field was found to be unsafe and closed.

1953 (25 Aug)

The new terminal at General Lyman Field was dedicated.

1953 (30 Aug)

Kamuela Airport was dedicated although the terminal was not completed until October 1953.  This airport was built entirely with Territorial funds without federal aid.

1953 (22 Sept)

A new drainage system was installed at Molokai Airport.

1953 (Oct)

Vice President and Mrs. Richard Nixon visited Hickam AFB enroute from the Far East to the mainland.

1953 (5 Dec)

The new terminal at General Lyman Field was completed and dedicated.

1953

Convair 340 aircraft were introduced by Hawaiian Airlines.

1953

Bids were opened for construction of roads, aprons and a parking area as well as a freight terminal at General Lyman Field.

1953

Special drainage work was done at Molokai Airport after heavy rains and mud made the runway unserviceable.

1953

There were eight airlines operating from Honolulu International Airport which required fuel. There were five fuel companies supplying fuel. The airlines formed the Honolulu Fuels Sub-Committee to address fueling issues.

1954 (March)

Proposals to extend Kona Airport encountered so much opposition that a new location was sought.

1954 (27 May)

Operations started in the new Hickam Control Tower, with the old tower converted for use by MATS operations.  The new tower was constructed in 1953; however equipment was not installed until 1954.

1954 (30 June)

Hawaii Public Works supervised 12 contracts for the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission to the amount of $992,373 for construction work at Hawaii airports.

1954 (30 June)

A total of 18 mercy flights were made by C-47 aircraft from neighbor islands to Hickam AFB during the first six months of the year to bring victims of accidents, polio and other serious illness to Honolulu for treatment.

1954 (1 July)

The PACAF Command was created and the 7th Air Force reactivated at Wheeler AFB in 1955.

1954 (Dec)

Plans for a new terminal at Honolulu International Airport were completed for an architect’s fee of $63,000.

1954

The runway was paved at Kalaupapa Airport.

1954

The freight terminal at General Lyman Field was completed.

1954

Non-scheduled operators at Port Allen Airport suspended operations due to economic pressures.

1955 (Feb)

The Hawaii Aeronautics Commission published a particularly thorough annual report. It was titled Airports at the Crossroads. It listed the duties of the nine volunteer member Commission, executive director and assistant as:

  • Maintain, operate and use the airports in full accordance with agreements with the CAA and applicable laws arid regulations.
  • Formulate policies to govern the operation, maintenance and management of the airports and to administer the functions in an efficient, businesslike and judicious manner.
  • Use all airport revenues for paying the cost of operations and maintenance, carrying out obligations of laws, contracts or grant conditions and for the development or improvement of the airports.
  • Comply with all civil air regulations of the Federal Government applicable to aircraft and pilots using the airports.
  • Establish rules and regulations not in conflict with Federal rules for the use of the airports.
  • To protect aerial approaches to the airports.
  • To keep a record of all revenue and expenditures of the airports and prepare statements as required.
  • To advertise the airports to the maximum interest of the various communities.
  • To inaugurate necessary policies with respect to the erection of sufficient facilities to meet the requirements of aeronautical and non-aeronautical users of the airports.
  • To prepare an annual report showing costs of maintenance, operation and management of the airports together with a statement of estimated revenues and funds on hand.
  • To make recommendations with respect to any necessary legislative action required for the protection of the airports.

The report had a history of each airport and showed Honolulu International Airport handling 732,810 passengers.  HNL cost $865,000 to operate and maintain while earning $885,000 plus $1,774,000 in aviation fuel taxes.

Honolulu International also had custody of Kipapa and Bellows Fields.

1955 (30 June)

The Hawaii Public Works Department supervised contracts valued at $263,717 for the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission for construction work at Hawaii airports.

1955 (14 Sept)

Construction of small plane hangars at HNL was completed.

1955 (13 Dec)

The British DeHavilland Comet III, the world's first jet liner, landed at HNL on an around the world trip. This was the Comet's only landing on American soil up to that time. The Comet flew from Honolulu to Vancouver in 5 hours and 39 minutes. Subsequent crashes related to depressurization problems caused by window configuration and thickness of the aluminum airline skin caused the demise of the Comet. The Boeing 707 emerged as the leading commercial airliner.

1955

Airlines operating from Honolulu International Airport were Hawaiian Airlines, Ltd., Trans-Pacific Airlines, United Air Lines, Pan American World Airways, Northwest Orient Airlines, Qantas Empire Airways, Japan Airlines, Canadian Pacific Airlines, Transocean Air Lines and South Pacific Airlines was proposed. Local non-scheduled air carriers were Andrew Flying Service and Cockett Airlines

1956 (30 June)

The Hawaii Public Works Department supervised 14 construction contracts valued at $876,315 for the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission.  They included repair, installation of lights and construction of hangars.

1956 (Aug)

Hearings were held in the Kohala Courthouse to see if the deteriorated airport at Upolu on the Big Island should be closed. All testifying urged keeping the runway open. Repairs were authorized by the Territorial Aeronautics Commission.

1956 (Oct)

Preliminary negotiations were completed on transfer of approximately 172 acres of Hickam land to the Territory of Hawaii in conjunction with the single airfield complex proposed in the Hickam Master Plan.

1956 (Dec)

The deed to Kahului Naval Air Station was transferred to the Territory in December 1956. The transfer involved 1,335 acres of land which the Navy had acquired at a cost of $467,000 and then spent $28 million developing. The Territory got a $28.5 million gift for the promise to keep it an airport.

1956

Overseas air passengers increased 26 percent to 322,750. Interisland passengers were double the overseas amount.

1956

Most commercial airlines announced a decision to purchase jet aircraft and have them in service by the middle of 1959.  Planning and land acquisition for a new jet terminal for HNL commenced.  Negotiations began to acquire land held by the Army, Navy and Air Force adjacent to the old portion of what had been John Rodgers Airport.

1956

Federal grants to the HNL totaled $166,528.

1957 (7 June)

A new passenger/freight terminal was completed at Molokai Airport at a cost of $220,000.

1957 (30 June)

The Hawaii Pubic Works Department supervised contracts valued at $1,043,070 for the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission for construction work at Hawaii airports.

1957

Runway 14-32 at HNL was closed permanently in 1957 to allow Lockheed Aircraft Service to maintain Navy radar aircraft.

1958 (1 Feb)

United Airlines set a record in a Honolulu to Los Angeles flight of 6 hours, 21 minutes.

1958 (25 Feb)

United Airlines set a record in a Honolulu to San Francisco flight of 5 hours and 43 minutes.

1958 (20 March)

HNL began stockpiling 700,000 cubic yards of coral fill for the future new Terminal.

1958 (1 April)

The first Joint Airlines Military Traffic Office to be approved outside the Continental United States was opened at the MATS Terminal, Hickam AFB.

1958 (18 July)

Public Law No. 85-534 authorized the Air Force to transfer 170.99 acres of land to the Territory of Hawaii for the development of Honolulu International Airport.

1958 (2 Oct)

A control tower building was completed at Kahului Airport and additional lighting was installed in the operations areas.

1958 (Oct)

A parking lot was added to the existing terminal area at Lihue Airport and a restaurant building connected to the terminal was completed.

1958

A total of 67.3 acres of land in the Damon Tract adjacent to HNL was purchased for a new terminal site for $4.95 million.

1958

Trans-­Pacific Airlines was purchased locally and renamed Aloha Airlines.

1958

Kona Airport needed a longer runway or a new airport site. The Territorial Aeronautics Commission authorized a study for a new Kona Airport.

1959 (5 Feb)

A groundbreaking was held for the new Honolulu International Airport Terminal. Governor Quinn said this project would be the first as a State and would be the first in the nation to be built for jet-age traffic from the ground-up.  Site preparation was done in 1959 for $1 million and $14 million in Aviation Revenue Bonds were sold to finance the building. A sharp rise in foreign arrivals was causing concern about adequate arrivals facilities.

1959 (17 March)

King Hussein of Jordan received full military honors when he arrived at Hickam AFB.

1959 (May)

Aloha Airlines started flying Fairchild F-27 aircraft which featured improved passenger viewing capability.

1959 (4 June)

President Sukarno of Indonesia arrived at Hickam AFB and was greeted with a 21 gun salute.

1959 (30 June)

Qantas Empire Airways landed a Boeing 707 aircraft at Honolulu enroute to Sydney, Australia. The flight from San Francisco had taken 4 hours and 50 minutes. Qantas intended to purchase seven B707 to fly the route through Hawaii.

1959 (30 June)

Qantas inaugurated commercial jet flights at HNL using Boeing 707s.

1959 (5-6 Aug)

Hickam AFB runways were cleared of all aircraft—an unprecedented situation—when the Hawaiian Islands were alerted to the approach of Hurricane Dot.  Aircraft for which there was no hangar space were evacuated to Maui and Hawaii.

1959 (17 Aug)

Hawaii was admitted to the Union as the 50th State.  Under the Government Reorganization Act of 1959, which took effect at Statehood in August 1959, the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission became part of the Department of Transportation and the Commissioners' terms expired on December 31, 1959.  The Reorganization Act abolished the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission as of July 1, 1961 when its functions were taken over by the Department of Transportation.  To bridge the gap from 1959 to 1961, temporary commissioners were appointed.

1959 (24 Aug)

Pan American Airways started Boeing 707 jet-liner service between the mainland United States and Honolulu.

1959 (Dec)

Stage 1 for the new terminal at Honolulu International Airport was completed.  Stage two was begun immediately.

1959

Canadian Pacific Airlines initiated jet prop service to Australia from Vancouver via Honolulu in Bristol Britannia aircraft.

1959

A contract with Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc. was terminated at their request. Lockheed had helped with planning and financing of the new Honolulu Terminal but because they would be an operator at the airport they wished to avoid any apparent conflict of interest.


Hawaii Aviation is brought to you courtesy of the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation, Airports Division.