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Hawaii’s Aviation History

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As the Crossroads of the Pacific, Hawaii played a vital role in the development of both commercial and military air travel. The first flight in Hawaii occurred on December 31, 1910. It captured the imagination and hearts of residents who dreamed of traveling by air between islands and the Mainland, Asia and Australia.

On this site you’ll find the incredible story of the first trans-Pacific flight by Navy Commander John Rodgers in 1925. Inter-Island Airways made its first commercial interisland flight in 1929, and Pan American Airways entered the trans-Pacific market in 1935. You’ll find numerous historical documents, and information about the book Above the Pacific written by the late William J. Horvat and originally published in 1966.

This website features more than 4,000 photos from the collections of the Hawaii Department of Transportation, Hawaii State Archives, Hickam Air Force Base, the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, the U. S. Naval History Center, Marine Corp Base Hawaii and private collections. We welcome additions to our collection.

Aviation History Highlights

On December 19, 1910, a “real birdman” arrived in Honolulu aboard the Manchuria. Whipple Hall, agent for the Curtiss Aircraft Company, debarked with an excitingly strange proposal. He announced that within a week two airplanes and men to fly them would arrive by ship. Hawaii was to be the first stop on the group’s 30,000-mile demonstration tour which included Japan, China, the Philippines, Siam, Singapore, Java, Persia, Africa, the Holy Land, Egypt, Spain, France, England, and “anywhere else bird men had not been seen before.”
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New Histories of Hawaii Airports
With the backing of the Chamber of Commerce of Honolulu and the Territorial Legislature, Hawaii’s first airport opened in 1927–John Rodgers Airport (now Honolulu International Airport). Over the next decade landing strips popped up across the islands. The military took over most landing fields during World War II and today’s modern airports evolved from there. […]
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