The check-in office for Island Seaplane is a floating dock. // © 2015 Island Seaplane
Feature image (above): A Honolulu Soaring glider rides the updrafts as passengers enjoy aerial views of Oahu's North Shore. // © 2015 Honolulu Soaring
Aerial views of Oahu last just a few minutes from the window seat of an arriving jumbo jet. But on an Oahu air tour, clients can enjoy up to two hours of spectacular scenery from on high.
Oahu’s air tour companies offer a variety of itineraries on intimate fixed-wing planes. Oversize windows invite bird’s-eye views for everyone onboard. Personalized narration helps passengers pick out points of interest around the destination, from Pearl Harbor in the south to the beaches of the North Shore.
The following air tours promise thrilling new perspectives on an Oahu vacation.
Lifting off from the North Shore’s Dillingham Airfield, Honolulu Soaring provides panoramic views from a sleek glider. After a tow-plane sets the glider airborne, all is silent except for the whispering of the wind and conversation with the pilot.
Inside the eco-friendly bubble-top aircraft, clients savor breathtaking vistas of the mountains, coral reefs, windsurfers and beaches of Oahu’s famed North Shore.
The ocean take-off and landing alone make Island Seaplane a thrilling tour. In between, the pilot enhances the adventure with narration as he follows a thoughtfully-conceived flight path.
Clients get sky-high perspectives on Oahu landmarks such as Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay, Koko Crater, Kaneohe Bay, the North Shore and Pearl Harbor. Adding to the allure is the check-in office, which is situated on a floating dock.
Oahu Air Tours
This company’s fixed-wing Cessna 182S looks small from the outside. Inside, however, the plane provides comfortable seating as well as dramatic views.
A 30-minute tour retraces the path flown by Japanese fighters leading up to their 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. A one-hour circle island tour covers Oahu’s best from on high. A private, romantic Friday night tour is timed with Waikiki’s weekly fireworks show.
Clients fly back in time on excursions in a fully-restored World War II aircraft. During the first part of the two-hour Pearl Harbor tour, clients participate in a simulated classified intelligence briefing about the Dec. 7 attack.
From there, they board the plane and take to the skies, seeing what it was like for wartime photographers doing aerial reconnaissance. A 30-minute alternative tour includes thrilling aerial maneuvers.
Stearman Bi-Plane Rides
Another restored, vintage aircraft awaits visitors in the form of a 1941 Stearman N2S biplane, operating out of Dillingham Airfield. Wearing a cloth helmet and goggles, the passenger sits in the front, with the pilot in the back. An open cockpit allows for unobstructed views during the North Shore and Pearl Harbor trips.
For a truly uplifting Oahu air tour, adventure seekers can book a 15-minute tour with loops and rolls.