Air Hawaii

New plane opens more opportunities for joyful flights for Big Island Air

Anthony Fink, pilot and director of operations for Big Island Air and Rex Brumley sit in the cockpit of the new plane.The enthusiasm for giving air tours was palpable at Kona International Airport’s commuter terminal Friday morning, when Big Island Air blessed its newest airplane.

“I’m living my dream right now, ” owner Steve Lupkey said, after the ceremony for the Cessna Grand Caravan EX. “We love what we do.”

What Big Island Air does is air tours to see waterfalls in Kohala, volcanoes around the island and whales each winter. With a fleet of two airplanes, both Cessna Caravans modified to give every passenger a window seat, and 11 employees, Lupkey said the company is getting positive reviews on travel websites and from customers completing the tours.

The newest plane is bedecked with an airbrushed-style mural, featuring a mauka-to-makai scene on one side with Madame Pele and flowing lava transitioning to reef fish and sunset skies, and whales, flowers and islands on the other. Inside, state-of-the-art equipment glows at passengers from the cockpit.

Kahu Danny Akaka Jr. performed a traditional Hawaiian purification blessing on the plane Friday, explaining to about two dozen people the significance of the maile draped across the door and how ancient Hawaiians believed everything, including their canoes, had a “life force, mana, feelings and intelligence. The ceremony is to give that sense of life to the aircraft.”

Steve and Hilda Lupkey, Big Island Air owners.Following the ceremony, Lupkey talked about his company, explaining how Big Island Air’s pilots, including himself, fill multiple roles, keeping the plane on track, as well as playing tour guide and providing entertainment.

“They all have extensive knowledge of the geology and history of the island, ” Lupkey said. “It’s our goal to reflect upon the passengers the joy and adventure we feel every time we go out there and fly.”

Anthony Fink, a pilot and the company’s director of operations, said the plane is the most advanced tour aircraft in the country, with sophisticated avionics, weather radar, terrain warning and an alert if other aircraft are approaching. Fink said he jokes with passengers that he could cover the plane’s windows with newspapers and still bring them home safely.

The craft is powered by a turboprop engine — a jet engine driven by propellers — that is powerful, reliable and relatively quiet, Fink said.

“It’s a joy to fly, ” Fink said. “It’s actually hard to call it work.”

Lupkey said the plane arrived about 10 days ago, and had just completed the additional Federal Aviation Administration checks all new aircraft are subjected to. He was planning to take some guests and friends in the air Friday, and begin commercial use today.

“We call this a new beginning for our company, ” Lupkey said. “It’s very meaningful. We want to provide a safe but first-class service to our customers.”


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I flew Hawaiian Air when I moved here in Sept

by ilima

I'm not totally sure about whether cats are allowed in the cabin into Hawaii, though (my dogs were too big to fly in the cabin anyway). I actually don't think any animals are allowed in the cabin because of the quarantine requirements; also, when I picked up my dogs (I did all the prepwork to do direct airport release), there was a woman totally upset about her cat, which she said WAS NOT allowed to go in the cabin with her (kitty was fine).
Hawaiian has a limit of 2 animals per flight; what I had to do was 'hold' a seat to get a reservation number then I called Hawaiian with the reservation number & they checked to make sure my dogs could go on the flight (first come, first served with pet reservations I think)
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Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs  — Hookelenews
All Navy activities in Hawaii will exercise personnel accountability during HURREX. Command personnel accountability representatives will account for all categories of personnel in the state as directed by an “All NAVACTS” message.

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