First Bi-Plane Flight

It’s finally here… the day I get to touch the sky in an open cockpit bi-plane (a restored WWII era Stearman) and the icing on this cake was the scenery I got to view during my trip was in Oahu!


Eric and I flew with Bruce Clements of  Stearman Bi-Plane Rides out of Dillingham Airfield on Oahu.   Eric flew a bombing run to Pearl Harbor, complete with aerobatics, I chose to do a scenic tour of the North and North-East sides of Oahu.




While we were driving to the hanger, a plane dropped some tandem sky divers out and I actually got this quite decent photo of one from the car not long before they landed.



DSCN2420Before we took off, I took a photo of the controls.  My seat was in the front of the plane, the pilot was behind me.


Taxiing to the airstrip from the hanger I took some photos to allow me to quell the little bit of anxiety I had over never having flown in an open-cockpit before.  That mountain/cliff to the left is the cliff that was used in the beginning episodes (and probably later one ones too) when they were filming on the beach nearby the airfield where they had the plane crash.




The beach and the fields east of the airfield in northwest Oahu.   I’m not sure what beach this is.  The fields, as well as the neighborhoods where people lived in that area, were still recovering from massive floods from earlier that week that were incurred during the same storms that cancelled our dives and more importantly wreaked major havoc all over Maui.  You can’t tell from this height, but that area wasn’t well cleared of flood debris until a good ten days after the floods.





The above series of photos shows me coming up on Hale’iwa Bay (and the town of Hale’iwa), which is the place we had visited the day before and found out about these bi-plane rides to begin with.  Take a good look at all the brown water around the bay, which was coming from streams that join not far inland that pour out into the bay.  The water in the bay is usually crystal clear, after the floods a few days before, it was still extremely brown.  Usually that beach is crowded on the weekend, but when we were there (on Sunday) there was no one at the beach and few at the more interior beach park because there was a “brown water” warning…this means that the water was not just wash out of dirt from the hills and mountains in the central part of the island, but contaminated with run-off from flooded cesspools and stuff and contained high levels of harmful bacteria.  You can really see where the separation between the ocean water and the fresh water mixed with salt water run off ends and begins on the right side of the third photograph and is caused by different currents coming in from the west.  We heard reports on the news though that they hadn’t see a run off like this on Oahu for years though as it reached out deeper into the ocean than they expected it would. 





This group of shots is me flying towards Waimea Bay and with a good few of the Waimea Beach Park  (also the North Shore).  Although not quite as visible here, the brown water is also present in this bay, but not as much so as at Hale’iwa Bay due to the fact that the main fresh water run off into the bay comes from way up in the mountains above, down the waterfall at Waimea Falls and then follows that stream of water you can see bisecting the beach (in the far right photo of this set).  The brown water you see is mostly to the left and right of the main part of Waimea Bay and that is due to other run offs and that is taken out to sea more quickly than if it came from the central run off into the bay, so the water was MUCH bluer (and cleaner) here.




This set of photos is when we turned in slightly inland at Waimea Bay to fly over the Waimea Botanical Park and the famous Waimea Falls that you can walk to and swim in the pool below it.  We went there back in 2007 and if I’d flown over it that year I wouldn’t have been able to see much white water in the falls, because they hadn’t had rain a few days before we visited the park.  This time, I could not only see the white-water from the air, but the big green pool beneath it, which trust me, wasn’t that big four years ago.  It was rather exciting to see a falls we’d actually BEEN to from the air.





A shot of either the naval or air force tracking station in the hills between north-western and north-eastern Oahu.




To my left, was another military communications station, I’m not sure which branch.  Not far past that towards my right hand side on the beach, but out of sight, was Turtle Bay, where our hotel was.





A shot of the windmills in the major wind farm on Oahu on it’s far North-coast.  It was only about five minutes south-east of our hotel, and on our last day on the island we drove by it on our way to take an alternative route around the island for scenery (the east side of the island has many of the lovely cliffs and scenery as well as some lovely beach views that are not crowded by tourists, since tourists rarely go on that side of the island), and I got a better and more up-close photo of the wind farm, but not in its entirety as I was able to from the air.  This was the largest wind farm I had ever seen.



INSERT VIDEOS AND/OR PHOTOS of the interior mountains, gulches and Sacred Falls HERE.






Now we are out of the interior of the island and the plane has turned north again.  The following photos and videos are of the north-eastern bays and shoreline.




This is the largest town on the north-east part of Oahu, La’ie.  There used to be huge sugar cane farms slightly inland on the foothills here, but now the farms around here grow mostly taro and there are also lots of tropical fruit orchards here…especially mango, guava and coconut trees and banana plants (remember, banana trees are NOT trees, but plants…which you would know,  if you didn’t already know before our trip, if you read the posts on the Road to Hana day).  The Hawaiian Islands Mormon Temple is in this town (the first one outside the continental US) and a branch of Brigham Young University, as well as the Polynesian Cultural Center (started and run by the Mormons, many of the young people who work there are students at Brigham Young University who came from different Polynesian Islands to go to college there), which is probably the only major paid tourist attraction on the east side of Oahu AND the most popular one on all of Oahu.  We went there in 2005 and it was a very enjoyable day,  we did not stay for the luau there, which was an extra price, but the reports of the newest luau they have there is that it does a better job of showing the true cultures and dances of the different Polynesian Cultures than it used to.  The best thing about that day was the wonderful parade of boats that went down thru the park, down the freshwater streams that they built the park around, with different “ali’I” (or nobles) from different Polynesian Cultures represented (I don’t know if they still do this or not, but we really enjoyed it) and also the hands on crafts exhibits where you can learn to do different things, like how to shuck and break open a coconut without using modern tools (this is HARD WORK, but if you have no other fresh water and are surrounded by ripe coconuts, this is a good skill to learn as coconut water is very hydrating).  If you ever stay at Turtle Bay and need a post office, there is one in a little strip mall in La’ie that we go to, it is less than seven miles from the resort, east on the main highway that goes by the resort.  They are wonderful there, they don’t get a lot of tourists, but don’t try to go between noon and 1 PM as they actually close the whole office for lunch (we just made it) even though they have several people working at the desk there (around here the main post offices switch off the people at the front desk and don’t completely close for lunch)!



This point that is at the far north end of the bay where La’ie nestles, is part of the Malaekahana State Recreational Area.  The island is actually still “connected” to the main island, but the lava rock has been worn away by the seas during the millennia and the amount of the “island” that shows depends on the tides.  It never is completely above the water now though, but you can see the connection to the main island from the sea when the water is this clear.  It really was quite lovely from the sky!






Coming around the most North-Eastern Point of Oahu.   That long peninsula at the bottom right of the right photo is the farthest east part of Ku’ilima Bay.  The flat green area to the left of that and slightly inland is Kulima Golf Course.   To the top right of the same photo you can see the peninsula right above it is where our hotel is:  Turtle Bay Resort and Hotel.




Coming up on Kulima Bay and Kulima Beach (the small bay/beach right to the left of the photo which is where we snorkeled Sat. the fifteenth.  This is the third time we stayed here and this is the first time we even SAW a beach we could hang out at that was sheltered enough during the winter swells to snorkel and hang out on the beach.   We will be making use of that beach much more in future visits!  The bay on the OTHER side of Turtle Bay Resort is what it was named after, Turtle Bay.  That beach is for watching the surfers and boogie-boarders, not a snorkeling or swimming beach, at least not during the winter.   It is a lovely beach to just lie out on, but being a red head I don’t just “lie out” on any beach…I either get in the water or go to the hotel’s pool bar and sit under an umbrella and watch the surfers (or the sunset) with my coffee drink of choice (or alcohol for the sunset!).  The pools, Jacuzzis and pool bar/restaurant at the Turtle Bay are VERY nice…comfortable and with a great view of the surfers and the sunset.










Posted in Hawaii.

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