While sitting at the terminal at Honolulu waiting for our flight home many moons ago, I was staring out of the window at the traffic arriving and departing. Being in a different area meant plenty of different airlines as well as the more familiar ones. I created a post a while back that included some of the more usual operators. However, the airport shares a runway with the Air Force base. When you are on final approach, you get to see some of the fighters in shelters. It also means that some military traffic might arrive.
A bunch of F-16s started appearing as they rolled out after landing. I don’t know whether Hawaii was their destination or just a good stopover as part of a Pacific crossing. They weren’t making the journey unsupervised though. A KC-10 was dragging them across the ocean and it soon showed up too. I guess the last refueling was the cue for the F-16s to put in a burst of speed to get in first with the “Gucci” following them home.
Our first visit to Hawaii included a few days on Oahu. We were staying out on the west coast of the island and our hotel was pretty close to the approach path for the jets coming across the Pacific. It was a serious hardship to sit on the shore in Hawaii watching planes fly overhead. The amount of traffic from Japan is significant and so we had some large jets coming in at that time. If we were there now, the 747s would be gone but ANA has taken A380s for this run. Not sure that they are flying right now but they are likely to be back given the traffic that should ultimately return.
Another archive post today. When we flew through Honolulu, we had some time at the airport and, needless to say, I took some photos of the traffic. Sure, there were some familiar names but there were also some airlines I hadn’t seen before. Whether it was small props or larger jets, something a bit new and different is always appreciated. Here are some shots from our time waiting for our flights.
Anyone that has vacationed in the Hawaiian Islands knows that there are loads of helicopters around. The sightseeing flight operations are extensive and there are a variety of types that are used. The Astar was a big feature of these flights but the EC130 was developed to provide something best suited to these flights and it is now very widespread. There are other types in use too. I used a Robinson R44 for one of my flights for example.
There are the occasional MD500s around too which is what you expect to see if you ever watched the original Magnum PI TV series. The helicopter area at Lihue was a busy place to be with a steady stream of operators moving from the different pads. I wasn’t on vacation to spend time watching helicopters but of course I managed to slip a little time in with them!
The Big Island has dramatically different characteristics as you move across it. As we took our trip on the helicopter to see the volcanic activity, we continued up the east side of the island which is considerably wetter than the west. There are dramatic valleys and high cliffs. The terrain looks impressive from the air but I imagine it looks even more amazing when you are on the ground. Our pilot described hiking around some of these valleys. Crossing one ridge is apparently a six hour hike and that is if you are not loaded down with too much gear!
We flew in to some of the valleys to have a look around. The ground towered above us on most sides and you really felt in awe of the geology around you. Everything is so large, images don’t even start to represent what we saw. We also came in to the highest falls on the island. The largest of these drop over 3,000’ down the sides of the mountains. We flew in to a corner where these falls were raining down. The shots are not special but I include them to try and give an impression of what was there. The scale is impossible to judge and I also had plenty of reflections from the cockpit glazing but here they are anyway.
We buzzed around a number of these valleys always surrounded by lush, steep slopes. This is not an area for the faint of heart. We then headed back towards the west up another valley climbing towards the ridge ahead of us. As we popped over this ridge the green foliage was almost instantly replaced by the dry, brown landscape we had originally come from. The transition was instant and rather surprising as, while climbing up, you had no idea what was ahead. Then it was a straight run back to our base.
I am like many tourists in that I am a sucker for waterfalls. I suspect as I go through the many posts on this blog that I will find plenty of waterfall shots. Today I shall be adding one more. Akaka Falls on Big Island are a popular spot. Tour parties seemed to be a feature the day we were there. We saw so many people wearing badges defining which group they were in and you could see the group number change as you walked around and obviously came across a different part of their schedule. However, they were not what we were there to see.
You can take a short walk to the falls from the parking lot. What is nicer is to take the longer loop. You actually get a view of some other falls early on in the loop although they are across a valley and so a little less dramatic. The area is rain forest like in its conditions so you get to see plenty of cool plants and wildlife as you go, some of which has already made its way on to this blog. Near the end of the loop, you come down a slope and the Akaka Falls are in front of you.
They are some pretty high falls. The volume of water rushing over them was substantial and you could see smaller streams of water around the opening. Sadly, the viewing area was such that it was hard to get a good view of the bottom of the falls and the surrounding water so everything felt a little isolated when trying to frame it. I’m sure with more time and persistence, I might have found a better way to get some shots. The blog is most suited to landscape format shots but these falls were stretching the wide angle nature of the lens I was using so portrait was often the best option. They are snapshots of a tourist spot but they make me remember a really cool waterfall.
Big Island is not short of waterfalls. The most well-known ones attract tourists like us who will drive to see them. However, so much of the island is not close to the roads and there are rivers and falls all through this area. Our pilot was a keen hiker and he showed us his favorite falls. Apparently this trip will be a full day hike to get you in and out again. I assume this includes some time to hang out and enjoy the falls once you get there.
If you are slightly less energetic, flying over the falls in a helicopter is a lot quicker to do and certainly doesn’t tire you out as much. The location certainly looked cool though and, from above, you get less of an immersive feeling. Judging by the river we saw on our way to the falls, there are plenty of cool sights to see on the way as well. You do need to be well prepared though. Forget cell phone coverage. You are on your own out there!
Driving back to our hotel from Hilo took us across the center of Big Island. This is a pretty high drive as you pass between the two big mountains of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea is the home to a number of observatories. We did drive some way up the mountain to the visitor’s center. You are already at quite some altitude at this point and you could feel the lack of air when you moved too quickly. There was an option to drive all the way to the top but we had other things scheduled and didn’t make the trek up.
From the visitor center, you couldn’t actually see the observatories. However, as we drove towards the turn for the mountain, we did come to a pull off where you could see them up on the summit with the sun glinting off the domes of the larger installations. Another time I would certainly like to go all the way to the top. However, I think I shall be alone on that trip as Nancy was already feeling the effects of the altitude.
Gratuitous sunset shots are not usually my thing. However, where we were staying on Big Island provided a great place to watch the sun go down. It was easy to have the sun go down in line with a little headland by the beach so why wouldn’t I do that? I watched a couple of the sunsets from there. The sky was better for one of them but there wasn’t a lot of high level cloud to really light up.
It’s interesting to see how many people that came out for the sunset disappeared right after the sun went down. They missed some of the more lovely sky colors that resulted as the sun illuminated the clouds from below once it had passed beyond the horizon. A little patience is worthwhile, although it doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice for a photo when you are standing by a tropical beach.
We were heading out of Hilo and starting back in the direction of where we were staying but our route took us almost directly past the Rainbow Falls. Having already seen some good falls on this day, we were curious but not determined to see these falls. Moreover, it was looking a bit overcast as we drove up. This was the beginning though. As we pulled into the parking lot, the heavens opened. It was hammering down. Having got there, I figured I would take a look anyway although Nancy was quite happy to wait in the dry. Your intrepid photographer had to bear witness though.
Rainbows require two ingredients. Water vapor and sunlight. Without the sunlight, there was not going to be a hint of a rainbow. The falls were pretty cool looking though. I bounced around the perimeter checking them out from various angles while getting progressively wetter. It wasn’t just wet, though. The wind was really picking up so combine and damp and cold guy in some low light with a lot of wind blowing and getting the shots was beginning to be tricky. Instead, I took a good look at the falls and then admitted defeat. Back to the car to peel off the wet jacket and try to dry off on the drive back across the island.