10 December 1983
December 7-10, 1983 My parents were in Hawaii for four months, and we spent their last two weeks with them. If you go to Hawaii and if you are a pilot, you must fly an airplane between the islands yourself. The scenery is like nothing that you can see on the mainland. When Mom told her acquaintances of my plan to fly between the islands, they were dumbfounded. They could not believe someone would fly a single engine airplane between the islands. In fact they had Mom talked out of flying with me. The day came to fly the Cessna 182 from Honolulu to Maui. Liz, Dad and I told Mom that we were all going, and she could go with us if she wanted. She relented and got in the airplane. December 8: Always great weather - not! We departed Kahului, Maui, for Hilo, on the Big Island. I had rented the airplane on the condition that I would not fly IFR or at night. That did not seem to be a problem, because I was told the weather is always beautiful in Hawaii. However, I found out that the strong northeast winter tradewinds blow up the western slopes of all the islands, creating rain showers and low ceilings. The eastern sides of the islands usually remain clear. My weather briefing on Maui revealed no significant weather en route. We flew along the western coast of Maui in good weather, then started the 30-mile open water stretch to the Big Island. By the time we were half way across, we were surrounded by rain showers and ceilings that were dropping. At 700 feet above the ocean, I was getting ready to call Honolulu Center and file an IFR flight plan. Suddenly I found a blue hole and circled up to 6500 feet, where I was above all the clouds. A quick call to Flight Service revealed that the entire western coast of the Big Island was obscured by the rain showers. We decided to divert to Kona, on the eastern coast. When we flew by the northern tip of the Big Island, the clouds disappeared. This is one of the few times I have actually changed my final destination en route. The next day we flew to Hilo, around the southern end of the Big Island. December 10: Big Mountain. We were going to fly from Hilo over the top of Haleakala, and then back to Honolulu. Haleakala is a 10,000-foot volcano on Maui. The only time Mom was a little apprehensive was when we were climbing to fly over the top of Haleakala. We started at nearly sea level and could see nothing but 10,000 feet of mountain directly in front of us. She said, "What will happen if you can't get over the mountain in time?" I quickly responded, "I guess we'll just crash right into the side of the mountain!" Liz assured her that we would turn around and gain more altitude if necessary. It wasn't. Mom told all her dumbfounded Hawaiian friends how much she enjoyed her light airplane tour of the islands.