Hawaiian Celebrates 92nd Birthday of its First-Ever Company Airplane
The Hawaiian Airlines single-engine airplane that was instrumental in introducing the islands to commercial aviation celebrated its 92nd birthday today.
Hawaiian Airlines commemorated the occasion this morning during a ceremony at Honolulu’s Castle & Cook hangar, which houses the company’s Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, a five-passenger, 300-horsepower monoplane with a fabric-covered metal frame and wooden wings.
In 1928 isle businessman Stanley C. Kennedy convinced the board of Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company to expand into the airline sector and purchase the small plane from Delaware-based Bellanca Aircraft Corporation, where it was flown cross-country to San Francisco and shipped to Hawai‘i. Kennedy believed air travel would inevitably overtake ships as the main mode of passenger transportation between the Hawaiian Islands.
The Bellanca first took to the island’s skies on Oct. 6, 1929, when it carried 76 passengers on trial flights. Hawaiian Airlines’ predecessor, Inter-Island Air Service, was officially inaugurated on Nov. 11, 1929, with the Bellanca logging nearly 50 flight hours on sightseeing tours that month.
Hawaiian Airlines has preserved the aircraft and today uses it primarily to take employees on scenic flights around O‘ahu.