It’s no secret the Hawaiian Islands are home to dramatic, often breathtaking scenery. From jagged mountain ranges carved by cascading waterfalls to the gradient turquoise ocean, most locals would agree the most spectacular panoramic views come from the air.
Did you know…
Over nine decades ago, we launched our first sightseeing tours over O‘ahu using the Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker under our former alias Inter-Island Airways, Ltd. These flights were a part of the company’s strategy to get locals comfortable with flying before the launch of regularly scheduled flights between the Neighbor Islands in 1929.
Off the beaten path
As operations evolved in the subsequent decades, our crewmembers remained focused on transporting guests between the Neighbor Islands safely while also giving them the travel experience of a lifetime. It wasn’t unusual for captains to modify their flight path – before the days of air traffic control – to allow for a more dramatic view from the cabin.
Adding tours to the schedule
In the wake of the Kīlauea eruption in February 1955, we officially added sight-seeing tours over the Island of Hawai‘i to our schedule using the Convair 330s.
The flights proved so popular that we eventually retrofitted several of our Douglas DC-3 with huge, five-foot-wide "viewmaster" windows. These planes were nicknamed “Gooney Birds,” and were used extensively for tours well into the 1960s.
We eventually retired the DC-3 and transitioned to an all-jet fleet in 1966 with the DC-9 – a plane too large for sight-seeing trips. As a result, sales for the special flights were halted and wouldn’t be relaunched until the 1980s when we received the smaller de Havilland Dash 7 turboprops. The aircraft, used primarily on Neighbor Island routes, enabled us to start a series of “Islands in the Sky” tours that were operated (almost) daily until 1993, when we retired the Dash 7s from our fleet.
[Editor’s note: These flights operated daily, so long as the majority of the aircraft’s seats sold.]
Fast-forward to today
While sight-seeing tours operated by Hawaiian are rare today, our regular flight paths still offer guests a striking view of Hawai‘i’s famous landscape from the comfort of their seats. Guests on our flights will often get a “guided tour” from our flight attendants who name their favorite spots as our aircraft flies over the Hawaiian Island chain.