Pacific Warbirds uses vintage planes for aerial tours of Oahu. // © 2016 Pacific Warbirds
Catch a sunrise, glide above turquoise waters or retrace one of the most poignant days in U.S. history. Adrenaline junkies can soar into it all by catching bird’s-eye views of Oahu in the most unconventional ways.
Those into nostalgia will witness a mother lode of naval aviation history while buckled into the cockpit of Pacific Warbirds’ (PacificWarbirds.com) vintage U.S. Navy T-6. After donning authentic World War II-era gear and receiving a “Classified Intelligence Briefing,” guests are immersed within the Admiral’s Warbird Adventure that tracks routes flown by Japanese pilots in their Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack that also struck Wheeler, Kaneohe and Bellows airfields.
Original Glider Rides (HonoluluSoaring.com) flies the friendly skies above northwest Oahu with high-performance bubble-topped gliders that reach altitudes of more than 3,000 feet. What sets the engine-free craft apart is the in-flight silence and extreme safety, since sailplanes rely on so few mechanical parts. An acrobatic “loop the loop” maneuver provides an exhilarating spin to the aerial thrill.
For those intrigued with the concept of surfing the sky, Hang Gliding Hawaii (HangGlidingHawaii.com) delivers a full-throttle rush. Revving up to 100-plus miles per hour, its Evolution Revo “flying motorcycle” can glide and land almost anywhere without an engine. Plus, it’s outfitted with a backup rocket-propelled emergency parachute for ultimate security. Whisk above white-sand beaches as owner and FAA-certified instructor Eric Nakamoto merges flightseeing with hands-on instruction.
Other lofty options include door-free flights with Paradise Helicopters (ParadiseCopters.com), ziplining in the heart of 4,000-acre Kualoa Ranch (Kualoa.com) and circumnavigating Oahu with Island Seaplane (IslandSeaplane.com).