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HNL 1940-1949


John Rodgers Airport 1948



Very little work was done on airports in the Territory due to lack of funds.  However, maintenance was carried out from the General Airport appropriation of $11,877.88 from the aviation gas tax received principally from Inter-Island Airways, Ltd., and private aviation schools.


Although the Territorial Treasurer collected $31,637.42 from Pan American Airways, paid under protest, the money was held pending a suit filed by Pan American challenging the execution of the tax.  The Attorney General was pressing the claim of the Territory.


A total of $609.92 was spent on improvements at John Rodgers Airport during the year.


At the request of the Army and Navy, land on Kauai, Maui, Hawaii and Molokai was set aside for military use.  In exchange, the U.S. Army turned over 91.133 acres at Hickam Field for future development of John Rodgers Airport.


Pan American Airways carried a total of 1,200 passengers to and through Honolulu. The flights were from San Francisco to Honolulu, from San Francisco to the Orient, from the Orient to Honolulu, from the Orient to San Francisco, and from Honolulu to San Francisco.  Inter-Island Airways made 2,824 flights from Territorial airports, carrying 26,482 passengers.


Since the inception of John Rodgers Airport a total of $355,945.44 was spent on construction and maintenance.  This includes $51,300.54 in Federal funds; $191,237.59 in Territorial funds, and $113,407.31 from Inter-Island Airways.


The total rentals received from Inter-Island Airways, Ltd. and private flying services at John Rodgers Airport amounted to $2,720.70.


In 1936, Governor Poindexter requested the U.S. Department of Air Commerce to send an engineer to Hawaii to advise the Territory in its airport program. Robert I. Campbell was assigned by the department for this work.


In 1939, Campbell 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 was authorized for development of this and other Territorial airports.  In 1940, Congress authorized a total of $3.3 million for dredging of Keehi Lagoon.  In 1941, an additional sum of $1.9 million was authorized for the development of John Rodgers Airport in conjunction with the seaplane project.


Layout for this combined airport and Seadrome as submitted by Campbell in July, 1941, was carried out by the U .S. Engineers and the Navy in the war development of John Rodgers Airport.



November 1, 1939

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.



Final approval of the Keehi Lagoon Seaplane basin was given by the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army and a contract for the dredging in the amount of $3.3 million was awarded to Standard Dredging Company, Los Angeles, California.  A change in one of the runways was being considered, which would increase the cost by $500,000.  Construction began in October 1941.


Work by the Survey Division of the Territorial Highway Department was necessary on this project as the rights-of-way involved 1,621 different ownerships.


In this connection, the Department of Public Works  applied to the Civil Aeronautics Authority for funds to initiate a survey to determine the feasibility of building land runways at the same time the seaplane runways were being dredged, as well as developing a final plan for a complete airport.


The Hawaiian Department, the U.S. Engineer and the local Civil Aeronautics Authority office approved the request and it appeared probable that such funds would be allotted.  Immediately on completion of the survey, the Territory applied to the CAA for the necessary funds to construct the airport.


During the year, the CAA spent $53,000 on John Rodgers Airport, while the U.S. Engineer spent $3.3 million on the Keehi Lagoon Seaplane Basin.


The Territory collected $18,076.08 in aviation gasoline tax, which amount was expended in maintenance and operation of the airport.


To date, approximately $48,500 in gasoline tax has been collected from Pan American Airways.  However, this amount was paid under protest and was in litigation.  A decision in favor of the Territory was handed down by the court but Pan American immediately appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.  A final decision was expected in October 1941.


During the year, Inter-Island Airways made 3,419 flights from Territorial airports, carrying 35,134 passengers.  Inter-Island expended $1,350 for station improvements at John Rodgers Airport.


The Civil Aeronautics Administration completed a radio station at John Rodgers Airport.


Pan American carried 1,965 passengers to and through Honolulu.


On July 1, 1940 there were 28 private planes registered in the Territory.  On July 1, 1941, there were 43 private planes registered, an increase of 54 percent.  These planes were all operated commercially either by the established operators or were owned by flying clubs.  Three new clubs were organized within the past year.


A total of 18,950 hours were flown by these airplanes.  Of this total, 17,085 hours were logged by planes operating at John Rodgers Airport.  All of this flying, which consisted mostly of student instruction and solo flying, was done without injury.


A few landing and taxiing accidents occurred during the year, but all were minor and no injures were incurred by personnel.  Four of these accidents were caused by high winds upsetting light aircraft while taxiing. 


There was an increase of approximately 100 percent in flying activities at John Rodgers Airport during the past year.  On Sunday, November 10, 1940, 517 take-offs were made.  On Sunday, June 29, 1941, 720 take-offs were made.  Each takeoff represents a landing; therefore, on an average weekend or holiday there are approximately 1,400 landings or take offs.  A conservative estimate would indicate a 50 percent increase in flying in the next six months.  A control tower was urgently needed at the airport.


The flying services operating at John Rodgers Airport made substantial improvements to their plants and facilities during the year.  The Andrew Flying Serving built an extension to its hangar for an office.  The K-T Flying Service built a new all-steel hangar 90 by 100 feet.  Standard Oil Company installed an additional gasoline service, consisting of a 1,000-gallon underground tank and service pit at the K-T hangar.


Gambo Flying Service erected a 40 x 60 foot hangar and extended it to 60 x 80 feet to provide for two classrooms and two offices.


The Honolulu Junior Chamber of Commerce sponsored a CAA Non-College Civilian Pilot Training Project.  The ground school was conducted by the University of Hawaii and the flight contractor was Andrew Flying Service.



December 1940

A total of 1,153 people came to Hawaii from the Mainland by air. Flights took 16 hours and the cost was $278.


Pan American Airways started a connection by Clipper to Alaska and delivered air mail to Auckland, New Zealand through Honolulu, Canton Island and New Caledonia.



On October 1, 1941, Inter-Island Airways changed its name to Hawaiian Airlines.


In October 1941, layout was complete and the Army Corps of Engineers began dredging Keehi Lagoon for seaplane runways, using the spoil to augment John Rodgers Airport.  $5 million was appropriated by Congress for the project.


On November 27, 1941, the Hawaiian Islands were placed on alert. Attack by Japanese Forces was expected in the Philippines. Additional security measures were taken but aircraft were bunched up to protect against anticipated sabotage rather than dispersed against potential air attack. 


At 0755 on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, 183 aircraft from six Japanese aircraft carriers struck American military facilities and vessels on Oahu. The second wave consisted of 170 aircraft. Ninety-four American ships were in Pearl Harbor. Four hundred American aircraft were parked at Ford Island, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Ewa MCAS, Kaneohe MCAS, Bellows Station and Haleiwa Field. The American Aircraft Carrier Saratoga was in San Diego, the Lexington was delivering planes to Midway Island and the Enterprise delivering planes to Wake Island. The Japanese attack sunk 18 American ships and destroyed 188 American aircraft and caused 2,335 American military deaths while losing 29 Japanese planes, damaging 50 Japanese planes and suffering fewer than 100 Japanese deaths. A flight of 11 B-17s arrived during the attack from the West Coast and landed at Wheeler, Haleiwa, Hickam and the golf course at Kahuku. One plane was destroyed and three badly damaged.


Two Hawaiian Airlines transports were damaged on the ground during the attack on Pearl Harbor.


The first civilian casualty of the War in Hawaii was Robert Tyce, owner of the K-T Flying Service, who was killed by machine gun fire from Japanese torpedo planes as they flew over John Rodgers Airport on their way to Pearl Harbor.


Small planes of other flying services received bullet holes but were able to return to Rodgers Airport without injury to pilots or passengers.


Gambo Flying Service lost two planes and two civilian Aeronca aircraft were fired on by the attacking forces. World War Two had started in Hawaii and was followed within a few hours by attacks on the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. 


Immediately after the Pearl Harbor Attack all airports were taken over by the armed forces of the United States. Some of these airfields were considered vulnerable to attack and unusable, and the others were placed under strict control of either the Army or Navy.


All civilian aircraft in Hawaii were grounded.  Within a few days, Hawaiian Air was approved by the Military Governor to make emergency flights under military direction, carrying engineers, medicines, munitions, etc. to the neighbor islands. Passenger priority supervision was exercised by the Army for security purposes and expediting war priority transportation.  As a security measure, airplane windows were blacked out.


An "Agreement with the United States Relative to Operation and Maintenance of the John Rodgers Airport and Keehi Lagoon Seaplane Base" was reached between the Territory and the military.


Kalaupapa Leper Settlement on Molokai was isolated and the Gambo Flying Service based at John Rodgers Airport was authorized by the military to furnish emergency transportation of medical supplies, etc. direct to Kalaupapa. These flights were made by Marguerite Gambo with a Fairchild monoplane which was suitable for operation into the small field at Kalaupapa.


During the early days of the War, Hawaiian’s Sikorsky planes were converted to cargo planes, carrying critical medical supplies and equipment to the other islands and bringing back cargo of fresh vegetables and beef.  Thus began the first U.S. air-freight service.


In December 1941 the Army Corps of Engineers was about 10 percent complete on the dredging of three seaplane runways at Keehi Lagoon which were to be two to three miles long by 1,000 feet wide by 10 feet deep. Dredging was intensified with as many as nine dredges working on the project which was useable by late 1943 and completed in September of 1944.  More than 10 million cubic yards of coral was placed between John Rodgers Airport and Hickam Field, in Fort Shafter Flats, in Mapunapuna and elsewhere in the vicinity.  However, the most important construction was four runways at John Rodgers Airport which would become Naval Air Station Honolulu (NAS 29) and home base for an Army and Navy Air Transport Command.



August 1941

Inter-Island Airways acquired three DC-3 24-passenger aircraft and they flew from Oakland to Honolulu in 14 hours and 58 minutes.



Immediately after December 7, 1941, the control and operation of all Territorial airports was taken over by the armed forces for the duration of the war and six months thereafter. Under these conditions extensive improvements were made at John Rodgers Airport.


Upon the outbreak of war all civilian flying was suspended with commercial airlines allowed to continue some operations on a restricted basis. Flying around the islands during the years 1941-45 was risky. There were 37 crashes, seven of them civilian and 485 lives were lost.


Dredging operations on the Keehi Lagoon seaplane base commenced in October 1941.   Dredged material from these operations proved to be of great benefit to the war effort.  More than 10 million cubic yards of coral were dredged by six cutterhead and hopper dredges and the material was deposited from Fort Kamehameha to Mapunapuna to Fort Shafter Flats and Sand Island. The elevation of the airport was continued at about eight feet above low water. The amount of land at John Rodgers Airport increased from about 200 acres to more than 1,000 acres. A square mile of area between Hickam Field and John Rodgers Field was also filled in and a future joint runway conceived.


By mid 1943, the land plane area had been filled by spoil from seaplane channel dredging and three runways completed. The three seaplane runways were more than two miles in length and 9 to 10 feet deep. The field was taken over by the Army at the beginning of the War and used as a troop carrier transport base while construction of the runways was in progress.


In August 1943, the Navy received a permit from the Territory to enter and construct facilities for its own use.  Extensive construction was undertaken to provide a base for seaplane and land plane operations, principally for the Naval Air Transport Service.  The airport was officially designated as Naval Air Station Honolulu.  The Army continued to use the field in conjunction with the Navy and all B-29s and many other combat planes were staged through the airport, making it one of the most important installations in the War.



March 20, 1942

Hawaiian Airlines started it first scheduled air freight service between the islands.

June 1942

At the beginning of war, the facilities of Pan American Airways were placed at the disposal of the Navy and in June 1942, operations for the Navy were commenced on a contractual basis in conjunction with the Naval Air Transport Service.


As Pearl Harbor became congested with ships in 1942, work was rushed on the Keehi Seadrome so that seaplane transport operations could be removed from Pearl Harbor.

June 10, 1943

The establishment of Naval Air Station, Keehi Lagoon, was approved by the Secretary of the Navy.  The station was to serve as a terminal for NATS and Pan American Airways.  The initial operation of both land and sea planes was planned for December 1, 1943. 

December 26, 1943

The Secretary of the Navy redesignated the Naval Air Station, Keehi Lagoon as U.S. Naval Air Station, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, with the primary mission of maintaining and operating a base for Naval Air Transport Units, Pacific Wing.


During the war years, John Rodgers Airport was also home base for the Naval Utility Flight Unit, Naval Air Transport Service, 1522d AAF Base Unit, 15th Air Service Squadron and 19th Troop Carrier Squadron.



In November of 1944 the seaplane runways and launching ramps in Keehi Lagoon were turned over to the Commandant of the Honolulu Naval Air Station.  By the end of World War II the seaplane runways were obsolete and the project was abandoned by the River and Harbor Act of 1965.



January 1, 1944

Naval Air Station Honolulu (NAS 29) was operational in late 1943 but was commissioned on January 1, 1944.  The Navy completed construction of a terminal building, control tower and maintenance hangars for land planes operated by the Naval Air Transport Services.  On the north side of the field, the Navy built the Naval Air Station Honolulu to support the Naval Air Transport operations and to house about 5,000 men.

April 1, 1944

Full scale operation commenced at U.S. Naval Air Station, Honolulu, for both land and sea planes.





January 29, 1945

Hawaii was the center of two world air routes offered by the Civil Aeronautics Board.

March 1945

One Hawaiian Airlines C-53 Douglas aircraft was converted to augment the Sikorsky freighters then in use by the airline.

November 1, 1945

The ban was lifted on private flying and airfields were opened to civilians.

November 16, 1945

Pan American Airways resumed commercial seaplane operations between San Francisco and Hawaii with the Boeing Clippers which had been leased to the Navy during the War.



Additional land was acquired for Keehi Lagoon at a cost of $40,334.97.  The Territory let one contract for paving at the airport for $7, 668.96.  Most of the maintenance of the airport was handled by the military agencies occupying the airport.


Plans were underway for the return of John Rodgers Airport to the Territory from the U.S. Navy.  Personnel were being recruited to handle the many duties which would be involved.


Location and archeological studies were made at the Keehi Lagoon Seaplane Harbor and John Rodgers Airport at a cost of $100,000 with funds appropriated by the 1945 Legislature.


In 1946, John Rodgers Airport was one of the largest airports in the United States and comprised a total area of 4,019.476 acres.  It had four paved landplane runways, 200 feet wide and with lengths varying from 6,200 linear feet for the shortest one to 7,650 linear feet for the longest one.  There were three seaplane runways, each 1,000 feet wide with an average length of approximately 2.7 miles.


The seaplane runways were used only by the Navy, which had about five flights per week with Mars seaplanes between Honolulu and California.


Due to the tremendous advances in air transportation during the War, there was an unprecedented urge to “get on the bandwagon” of the new air age after the War. Veterans were encouraged by their priority in obtaining surplus aviation equipment.


Every available foot of frontage for fixed base operators at John Rodgers Airport was optioned by mid-1946.  Space in the overseas terminal was at a premium.  Requests for space from prospective trans-Pacific operators included the following:

            Australian National Airways

            China National Aviation Corp.

            Far East Air Transport

            KNILM (Dutch Airlines)

            Matson Navigation Co.

            Pacific Overseas Airlines

            Pan American Airways

            Philippine Airlines

            Samoan Area Airways

            Transocean Airlines

            United Air Lines


In addition, space for federal agencies had to be provided. These included the CAA Control Tower, Airways Traffic Control and Communication Center.  Also U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Public Heath and U.S. Weather Bureau.


The following local fixed-base, or non-scheduled operators, applied for space during 1946 and began operation:

            Andrew Flying Service

            Aero Service and Supply

            Cockett Airlines

            Hawaiian Aeromotive Repair Service

            Hawaiian Air Transport Service

            Hawaiian School of Aeronautics

            Island Flight Service

            K-T Flying Service

            Purdy Aero Repair Service

            Rainbow Airlines

            Trans-Air Hawaii

            Trans-Pacific Airlines

            Woolley Aircraft Co.


G-I flight training under the government vocational training program for veterans was the main source of revenue for flight schools with G-I contracts.  This federal expenditure was a great help to the struggling private flying industry.



March 25, 1946

Naval Air Station Honolulu was redesignated U.S. Naval Air Facility, Honolulu by the Navy Department.  The mission of the base was the support of the Naval Air Transport Service, and remained unchanged except that operations were conducted on a reduced sale. 

April 2, 1946

Hawaiian Air Transport Service began its operations with Beechcraft D-18 F planes, and provided non-scheduled service to all Territorial airports and provided special tourist sight-seeing flights to the Neighbor Islands, and charter services as required.

May 1946

Pacific Ocean Airlines inaugurated air service between Hawaii and the Mainland.  They discontinued operations in April 1948.



John Rodgers Airport was returned to the Territory on October 1, 1946.  During the nine months of the fiscal year, a total of 44,938 landings were made. 


Construction contracts for three improvement projects were awarded:

  • Alteration and Addition to Terminal Building, $80,195.09
  • Painting of Terminal Building, $4,253.80
  • Rehabilitation of Runway, $25,216.42.


Act 31, Session Laws of Hawaii 1947, approved May 2, 1947, entitled an Act to officially establish the name of Honolulu Airport changed the name of John Rodgers Airport and Keehi Lagoon Seaplane Harbor to Honolulu Airport. This was in line with the Mainland practice of changing longstanding names of airports to the name of the city where the airport was located. The designating of airports by the geographical location eliminated the confusion in the selling of tickets and operational communications throughout the world.


Act 32 of the 1947 Territorial Legislature transferred operation and maintenance of Territorial airports to the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission effective July 1, 1947.  Construction was to continue under the Department of Public Works.


In 1947, all commercial overseas flights between the West Coast of the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, and East Asia were operating from the Overseas Terminal on the south side of the airport.  All interisland operators were based on the north side of the airport.                    


The buildings and other facilities at Honolulu Airport in 1947 were all of a temporary nature, having been constructed by the Navy during the War.  The passenger terminal buildings had been remodeled and the adjacent area landscaped.  Located in the lobby of the overseas terminal were: RCA Communications, a barber shop, flower shop, and blind vendor’s newsstand. 


In 1947, long range plans were being developed for a terminal area on the north side of the airport which would be used jointly by both overseas and interisland airline operators.


During the year 1947, commercial airlines carried 63,055 passengers between Hawaii and the Mainland of the United States, as compared to a total of 26,000 passengers carried by ship in 1941.  Control Tower Reports for Honolulu Airport showed an average of 7,571 landings per month for the period ending June 30, 1948.  Interisland revenue passenger air traffic by scheduled airline during 1947 numbered 314,608, as compared to 48,855 carried during 1941. 


The development of air freight had taken place in Hawaii since the end of the War as perhaps nowhere else in the world. Cargoes of every conceivable nature including fresh fish flown from French Frigate Shoals, live stock, dressed beef, fresh vegetables, furniture, machinery, fresh milk, and in fact anything and everything were being transported by air.


In 1947, Trans-Pacific Airlines, operating DC-3s, had an application pending before the Civil Aeronautics Board for a certificate as a scheduled air carrier; Hawaiian Air Transport Service with twin-engine Beechcraft airplanes, operated a deluxe charter and tour service; Hawaiian School of Aeronautics operated a ground and flying school; Cockett Airlines operated a charter service with twin-engine Beechcraft planes; Andrew Flying Service operated a charter service and flying school; K-T Flying Service operated a charter service and flying school; and Island Flight Service had consolidated with Aero Service and Supply in the operation of a repair, rental and charter service.



July 26, 1946

Trans-Pacific Airlines, later to become Aloha Airlines, inaugurated a non-scheduled operation using DC-3 planes.

July 1946

Matson Airlines inaugurated air service between Hawaii and the Mainland.  They discontinued operations in July 1947.

October 4, 1946

Col. Clarence S. Irvine and crew flew their Boeing B-29 Superfortress Dreamboat from Hickam Field to Cairo, Egypt nonstop, in 39 hours and 36 minutes. The bomber made the 9,444 mile flight via the North Pole.

October 21, 1946

Cockett Airlines started its non-scheduled charter operations using twin-engine Beechcraft airplanes.

December 1946

Netherlands Indies Airlines inaugurated air service.  They discontinued operations in August 1947.

April 25, 1947

Australian National Airways inaugurated air service.  They discontinued operations in April 1948.

April 27, 1947

William A. Patterson, president of United Air Lines arrived at Honolulu Airport in the first DC-6 to be put in overseas service.  The occasion was to inaugurate United’s scheduled daily service between Honolulu and San Francisco on May 1, 1947.

May 2, 1947

John Rodgers Airport was renamed Honolulu Airport upon the approval of Act 31, Session Laws of Hawaii 1947, entitled An Act to officially establish the name of Honolulu Airport changed the name of John Rodgers Airport and Keehi Lagoon Seaplane Harbor to Honolulu Airport.  This was in line with Mainland practice in changing longstanding names of airports to that of the city where the airport is located. The designating of airports by the geographical location eliminates confusion in the selling of tickets and operational communications throughout the world.



During calendar year 1947, trans-Pacific operations between Honolulu and the Mainland and through Honolulu from the Philippines, Australia and the Orient, totaled 2,729 arrivals at Honolulu Airport as follows:

            Pan American World Airways, 1,794

            Transocean (including PAL), 300

            United Air Lines, 247

            Australian National Airways, 168

            Pacific Overseas Airlines, 95

            Matson Navigation Company, 53

            China National Aviation Corp., 33

            Royal Netherlands Indies Airways, 27

            Far Eastern Air Transport, Inc., 8

            Qantas Airways, 4


On April 1, 1948, a lease was entered into with the Spencecliff Corporation for the operation of a restaurant, coffee shop and cocktail lounge.  The lessee was to expend not less than $40,000 for improvements to the existing restaurant building and the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission provided $15,000 towards the improvements.  The project was to provide Honolulu Airport with a restaurant comparable to Mainland airports and provide the airport its most important source of non-aeronautical revenue.


Air traffic control was a function of the Civil Aeronautics Administration which maintained a 24-hour air-ground air communication by means of radio-telephone and radio-telegraph with aircraft operating overseas and interisland.  Space was provided in the overseas terminal for these facilities.


The U.S. Weather Bureau was also provided space in the Terminal Building for an Airways Weather Service.  The office furnished terminal and route weather forecasts for interisland and trans-Pacific flight operations. 


U.S. Customs, Immigration, Public Health and Agriculture were also located in the airport for the processing of all foreign passengers arriving in Hawaii via air or en route to the continental United States.  In addition, all passengers departing for the West Coast were cleared through Immigration at Honolulu Airport, thus eliminating delay upon arrival at a Mainland airport.  The baggage of all passengers was inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for fruits, plants, seeds, etc. that were subject to quarantine.


New rules and regulations of the Territorial Airport System were promulgated by the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission and approved by Acting Governor Oren E. Long on June 2, 1948.  These rules were the first revision since the rules and regulations promulgated by the former Territorial Aeronautical Commission on July 12, 1930.  These rules, in addition to regulating airport and aircraft operation, enabled the Honolulu Police Department to enforce vehicular traffic regulations at Honolulu Airport.          


On June 4, 1948, Philippine Air Lines placed DC-6’s in operation between San Francisco and Manila via Honolulu Airport on the first sleeper service across the Pacific.



July 1947

Philippine Airlines inaugurated air service to Hawaii. 

October 1947

China National Aviation Corp. inaugurated air service to Hawaii.

November 1947

Trans-Ocean Airlines inaugurated air service to Hawaii.

November 15, 1947

Trans Air Hawaii, initiated four DC-3s in freight and express service and carried a total of 12 million pounds of cargo during the year 1947.  They replaced their DC-3’s with larger C-46 cargo planes.  On November 27, 1947 Trans Air received a CAB Letter of Registration to fly a regular freight schedule between islands.


Andrew Flying Service operated a charter service and flying school.


Hawaiian Air Transport Service with twin-engine Beechcraft airplanes operated a deluxe charter and tour service.


K-T Flying Service operated a charter service and flying school.


Island Flight Service consolidated with Aero Service and Supply in the operation of a repair, rental and charter service.


Hawaiian School of Aeronautics operated a ground and flying school.


The 7th Air Force was renamed the Pacific Air Command in1947 but inactivated in 1949.  The Air Force, created out of the Army, became a separate service in 1947.  Wheeler was inactivated in 1947 and put in caretaker status, while activity at Hickam was limited mostly to servicing through traffic by air transports.


The Civil Aeronautics Administration moved their communications facilities to the third floor of the Honolulu Airport terminal building and the U.S. Weather bureau established an airport weather station there.


Before the Korean War, the Air Force and Navy combined airlift operations into MATS, a single-manager concept.  Between 1949 and 1954, MATS flew 559,000 passengers across the Pacific through Hickam.

January 24, 1948

Mokuleia Field was renamed for G. Dillingham.

March 26, 1948

Hickam Field was redesignated Hickam Air Force Base.

April 4, 1948

Bellows Field was officially opened for private aircraft after the Territory acquired a temporary right-of-entry for a portion of it.  The airfield was owned by the U.S. Army Air Force and developed extensively by the Army during the war.

May 1948

British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines inaugurated air service to Hawaii.

June 4, 1948

Philippine Air Lines placed DC-6s in operation between San Francisco and Manila on the first sleeper service across the Pacific.




By 1949 air traffic control responsibility was transferred from Hickam Field to Honolulu Airport.


During Fiscal Year 1948-49, the Honolulu Airport Maintenance Department performed continuous maintenance of buildings, grounds, runways, taxiways, roadways, and the drainage system on the airport.  These projects included the deepening and cleaning of approximately 2.5 miles of open drainage ditch, 12.5 miles of center line striping of runways, repainting of runway numbers and length markings and six miles of highway marking.  In addition, considerable work was done in laying out and marking automobile parking areas.


The terminal building and all Quonset buildings on the airport were painted airport green.  Roofs of all Quonsets were found to be in need of repairs to prevent leaks.


A continuous program of maintenance and replacing of runway lighting cable was carried out.  This was necessary due to termite damage.


Due to lack of patronage, the Honolulu Rapid Transit service to the Overseas Terminal was discontinued.  Transportation of airport and airline employees without private transportation became critical; and to encourage drivers to offer rides, waiting shelters were placed at the highway intersection and near the Overseas Terminal as protection in rainy weather and to discourage walking along the highway.


A nursery building was constructed and a large supply of potted plants developed.  These plants were changed frequently in the lobby, Sky Room and offices in the Terminal Building.


In July, the Commission authorized the purchase of 47 pieces of furniture for the Overseas Terminal lobby.  The furniture consisted of settees, easy chairs, coffee tables, end tables, and three large center tables. These items created a friendly atmosphere in the lobby.


The certification of Trans-Pacific Airlines in June 1949 required additional space for their ticket counters in the overseas terminal.  This in turn required relocating the immigration booth for processing departing passengers.


An automatic fire alarm system in the Overseas Terminal was recommended by the Territorial Fire Marshal.  Maintenance Superintendent H. C. Peters designed a system at an installation cost of less than half the estimate. 


Obstruction lights were installed on all buildings on the airport where required.


In January 1949, extensive alterations to the interior of the control tower were started by the Maintenance Department before installation of modern equipment by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.


A new building near Hawaiian Airlines Terminal was erected, and a concession let to Spencecliff Corporation to operate a coffee shop there.  A hedge of Christmas Berry was planted along Lagoon Drive.  When grown, the hedge will effectively screen the unsightly surplus equipment storage area.  Alterations were also made by the Weather Bureau.


In May 1949, the CAA Communications department moved from a location outside the airport to the third floor of the Overseas Terminal Building.  The CAA Air Route Traffic Center was moved earlier from Hickam Field to the Terminal Building. All CAA air traffic control functions, other than radio range stations, were located in the Overseas Terminal.


Due to the around-the-clock operations in the terminal building, a janitorial force of 15 men and four women was necessary to perform the cleaning services.  This work was included in office rental rates to airlines.


In October 1946, the Navy turned over two small crash-fire trucks and a 500 GPM pumper to the airport. This marked the origin of an airport emergency service that was soon  comparable to the best at mainland airports.


From early 1947 until July 1949, these crash units were staffed by nine fire fighters on 24-hour shifts.  The men trained regularly with Navy personnel who staffed a considerably larger crash station directly across the field.  Both units coordinated closely in emergency service activities on the airport.


In February, 1949, the Navy announced that by the end of March 1959, it would close its remaining airport facilities and remove all fire equipment from the airport.  This announcement caused much concern, for the two small crash units which were to remain in the Territory’s hands were inadequate and seriously understaffed. 


Immediate steps were taken to alleviate these dangerous conditions.  The City and County Fire Department was approached for men and equipment but was unable to assist.  Efforts were made to acquire the equipment that the Navy had been using, but it was earmarked for other stations.  The Hawaii Air National Guard was then approached and General Makinney stated that there was a good possibility that their equipment could be placed on loan to the HAC especially if the Hawaii Air National Guard’s plans to move to Honolulu Airport were carried out. 


Meanwhile, in early April, bills were introduced in the Territorial Legislature requesting $200,000 for the acquisition, installation and operation of crash fire fighting equipment at Honolulu Airport.  Act 336, Session Laws of Hawaii 1949, was passed in May and provided funds for fire-fighter personnel and crash-rescue equipment.  Orders were placed for protective clothing and equipment.  There would now be two crews, each serving 24-hour shifts. In FY 1949, airport fire fighters responded to a total of 114 calls, 80 of which were emergency stand-by-calls. 


Police supervision at the airport was provided by five uniformed officers under an arrangement with the Honolulu Police Department.   The police role at the airport was one of public relations and assisting any visitor or other person at the airport who had a question or complaint.  They also handled control of crowds at loading gates, enforced no-smoking rules, assisted police in apprehending wanted persons, handled automobile traffic at the terminal and on the airport roads, issued citations for traffic or parking violations, investigated thefts and accidents, and other police duties.



July 30, 1948

Northwest Airlines received certification for a route between Honolulu and Seattle, Washington.  Frank C. Judd, Regional Vice-President of Northwest Airlines, arrived in Honolulu to inspect facilities and make preparations for inauguration of scheduled flights to the Northwest.  Northwest completed its survey flight from Portland to Honolulu with 27 passengers on November 11, 1948, and its inaugural flight on that route on December 2.  It was the first airline granted permission to fly scheduled service between Portland-Seattle and Honolulu.

July 30, 1948

The Civil Aeronautics Administration announced that Honolulu Airport ranked 30th in volume of traffic among 143 CAA tower controlled airports in the U.S.  During July, Honolulu Airport traffic totaled 17,738 operations.

August 1, 1948

Operation Aloha was inaugurated at Honolulu Airport under the auspices of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau with hula dancers and singers entertaining arriving and departing passengers.

August 27, 1948

A Navy flying boat, Caroline Mars, left Keehi Lagoon, Honolulu Airport, on a non-stop flight to Chicago with 25 passengers and 17 crew members.  It arrived in Chicago the next day, landing on Lake Michigan, after covering a distance of 4,748 miles in 24 hours and 13 minutes.

August 31, 1948

Hawaiian Airlines, Ltd., set an all-time record by carrying 2,122 passengers on August 22, 1948, and a record  42,793 passengers for the month of August.

September 1, 1948

Air parcel service between the Mainland and Hawaii and interisland was inaugurated.

September 16, 1948

Glenn T. Belcher, assumed duties as new Hawaii Aeronautics Commission Director of Aeronautics.

October 4, 1948

The CAB, by direction of President Harry S. Truman, authorized Pan American Airways a route from Seattle-Tacoma and Portland to Honolulu. 

November 25, 1948

Pan Am made the inaugural flight between the Pacific Northwest and Honolulu on November 25 with 19 passengers including a full-blooded Eskimo girl as their guest.  The flight continued on to the Orient.  The return trip from the Orient to the Pacific Northwest went via Honolulu on November 27.

December 31, 1948

The first DC-6 flight by Philippine Air Lines arrived in Honolulu.  Philippine Air Lines put on extra flights to take care of demand for air transportation caused by unsettled conditions in China.  So urgent was this travel that PAL transferred these passengers to United Air Lines chartered planes at Honolulu for the last leg of the flight to San Francisco.

February 16, 1949

British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines inaugurated DC-6 service through Honolulu from Sydney, Australia, to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, by setting a new speed record of 18 hours, 40 minutes flying time from Sydney to Honolulu.

February 21, 1949

Trans-Pacific Airlines received CAB certification for scheduled passenger and cargo operations serving all major airports with five DC-3 28-passenger planes.

March 3, 1949

United Air Lines inaugurated the first post-war sleeper service to the Mainland on March 3, 1949, with eight berths available on the DC-6 night flights.

March 6, 1949

Bill Odom set a record for a flight from Honolulu Airport landing at Teterboro, New Jersey, 36 hours and one minute after leaving Honolulu.  He set a new distance record of 4,957.24 miles for a light airplane and longest non-stop solo flight.  He flew a converted Beech Bonanza plane which was christened Waikiki Beach.  The flight was made with $75 worth of gasoline.

March 6, 1949

Pan American Airways’ first Stratocruiser arrived at Honolulu Airport.  It was placed on display for inspection by the public.  The largest crowd ever to assemble at the airport stood in line for hours to go aboard the plane for a preview of the largest passenger plane to be put in commercial operation.

March 8, 1949

The first of the utilities to be turned over to the Territory by the Navy was the sewer system serving the airport and Camp Catlin.  The facility was to be operated by the City and County of Honolulu starting July 1, 1949, with the cost of operations being shared by the Navy and the HAC.

March 19, 1949

British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines held its inaugural flight of DC-6 “cannonball service” from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver, British Columbia, via Honolulu. 

March 21, 1949

Prior to deactivation of the Naval Air Facility at Honolulu Airport, an extensive Navy fire department with crash-rescue facilities was augmented by nine full-time qualified crash crewmen employed by the HAC.  This number was considered inadequate when the Navy withdrew and the Territorial Legislature by Act 336, Session Laws of Hawaii 1949, appropriated $200,000 for fire fighting at Honolulu and other air fields.  Thirty-one firemen were recommended as an adequate force at Honolulu, but this number was reduced to 19 as an absolute minimum.  Franklin M. Metzger was selected to organize and head the fire department at Honolulu Airport.

March 24, 1949

The American Red Cross conducted advanced first aid courses at Honolulu Airport for employees of the airlines and others desiring the instruction.  All members of the airport crash crew completed the course. 

April 1, 1949

Pan American Airways’ Stratocruiser completed inaugural flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Honolulu in April 1949.

May 3, 1949

A chartered plane of KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) stopped at Honolulu Airport en route from Batavia to New York with 846 animals and birds aboard, including one baby elephant.

May 16, 1949

A Friday luncheon club, appropriately named the Aeronautical Kokua Club, was formed in May 1949 at Honolulu Airport by airlines executives and department heads of the HAC, Civil Aeronautics Administration and other federal agencies to get acquainted and discuss mutual problems while enjoying the food provided by the airport Sky Room.

May 19, 1949

Trans-Pacific Airlines started renovation of a warehouse adjoining their hangar to accommodate their operational offices.

June 24, 1949

Governor Stainback signed Act 360, Session Laws of Hawaii 1949, reducing the aviation fuel tax from five to four cents per gallon, effective July 1, 1949, and increasing the membership of the HAC from seven to nine.

June 5, 1949

Inaugural ceremonies were held for Trans-Pacific Airlines’ Alohaliners.  After the ceremony, planes took off from Honolulu for each of the Neighbor Islands where additional ceremonies were held to commemorate the beginning of scheduled service under their CAB certificate.

June 15, 1949

Pan American Airways announced that it carried a total of 745 trans-Pacific overseas passengers June 11 and 12, for a record weekend at Honolulu Airport.

June 15, 1949

K-T Flying Service suspended operations at Honolulu Airport and leased its hangar to Island Aviation, Ltd.

June 25, 1949

Northwest Airlines took delivery of their first of 10 Stratocruisers and announced they would be put in Hawaiian service in the fall of 1949.

FY 1949

Five PAM hangars were painted at a cost of $6,266.35.

FY 1949

Debris was removed from a building destroyed by fire, at a cost by $13,487.

FY 1949




Quonset buildings were painted at a cost of $9,285.84.



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