In 1929, only the most intrepid adventurers were familiar with the miracle of flight. So the visionary founders of Inter-Island Airways sought out the sturdiest, most comfortable aircraft of the day to introduce Hawaii residents to air travel: the Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker.
Inter-Island Airways, later renamed Hawaiian Airlines, would go on to introduce Hawaiiâ€™s first scheduled air service between the islands with two amphibious Sikorsky S-38 planes. But it was the Bellanca that got residents used to the idea of traveling by air. And now, 80 years later, the Bellanca is returning to grace the skies over Honolulu once again.
Hawaiian Airlines has found the historic plane and is bringing it back to Hawaii in time to celebrate its 80th anniversary on November 11, 2009.
Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiianâ€™s president and CEO, commented, â€œIt is humbling to think that the countless flights flown, the hundreds of millions of passengers carried and all the aviation â€˜firstsâ€™ our company has been responsible for started 80 years ago with this very airplane. It is a source of tremendous pride to all of us at Hawaiian Airlines that we will be bringing this seminal piece of Hawaiiâ€™s history back to where it belongs.â€
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. Pratt & Whitney, manufacturer of the vintage motor that powers the Bellanca as well as the jet engines on 14 of Hawaiianâ€™s current fleet of aircraft, is helping to underwrite the project.
â€œAs one of the earliest pioneers of aviation, Pratt & Whitneyâ€™s proud history of designing, building and servicing dependable engines began nearly 85 years ago,â€ said Jim Guiliano, vice president of Global Customer Services for Pratt & Whitney. â€œThis Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker is powered with a refurbished Pratt & Whitney WASP engine, and we are happy to help underwrite its restoration to commemorate Hawaiian Airlinesâ€™ 80th anniversary.â€
Hawaiian is making plans for special flights and public appearances for the plane following its arrival and reassembly on Oahu in September.
In September 1929, company founder Stanley C. Kennedy, Jr. acquired the Bellanca theorizing that people in Hawaii would more quickly accept the revolutionary concept of flying over water to the other islands if they could see and experience the wonders of flight in the skies above Honolulu.
Thus, the company began as an operator of sightseeing tours over Honolulu with the Bellanca and later began Hawaiiâ€™s first scheduled interisland air service using the two Sikorsky S-38 amphibian planes. Hawaiiâ€™s first airline has been serving the islands continuously ever since.