In September 1929, Inter-Island Airways owner Stanley C. Kennedy Jr. bought the sturdiest, most comfortable aircraft of the day: a Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker. Kennedy figured that people in Hawaii would more quickly accept the revolutionary concept of flying over water to other islands if they could first experience the wonders of flight in the skies above Honolulu.
Inter-Island Airways — later renamed Hawaiian Airlines — began operating Honolulu sightseeing tours with the Bellanca. Kennedy eventually launched Hawaii’s first scheduled interisland air service using two amphibian planes, but it was the Bellanca that got residents used to the idea of traveling by air.
Eighty years later, the same Bellanca is returning to Honolulu’s skies. Hawaiian Airlines — now the state’s biggest and longest-serving airline — has found the historic plane and is bringing it back to Hawaii in time to celebrate the carrier’s 80th anniversary on Nov. 11.
Hawaiian located the antique airplane with an aviation enthusiast in Oregon and organized a largely volunteer restoration project to return the plane to flying condition at Port Townsend Aero Museum in Washington. The plane will be returned to Hawaii sometime in September. Hawaiian is making plans for special flights and public appearances for the plane following its arrival on Oahu.
“It is humbling to think that the countless flights flown and the hundreds of millions of passengers carried started 80 years ago with this very airplane,” said Mark Dunkerley, president of Hawaiian Airlines, which is the largest provider of passenger air service to Hawaii from the state’s primary visitor markets on the U.S. mainland. “It is a source of tremendous pride to all of us at Hawaiian Airlines that we will be bringing this seminal piece of Hawaii’s history back to where it belongs.”