Hawaii By Air

Rising Tide of Tourism

You didn't have to be an astrologer to see the stars aligning in favor of tourism in Hawaii's future. The influences of postwar prosperity, interest in overseas travel, widespread marketing, and affordable air travel were growing stronger. Year after year, ever-increasing numbers of visitors arrived in Honolulu, most of them by air.

<em>Lurline</em> Arriving in Hawaii
Tourist with Leis

Hawaiians met the first postwar arrival of the luxury ocean liner Lurline in 1948 with long-awaited Boat Day fanfare. Before the war, over 99 percent of visitors arrived by sea. But by 1955, over three-fourths were arriving by air.

<em>Paradise of the Pacific</em> Magazine, 1949

Tourists flocked to Waikiki Beach again after the war. Matson built two more hotels there in the 1950s and increased its cruise ship operations. But the heyday of ocean liner travel was fading. In 1970 Matson sold its hotels and luxury liners and ended its cruise ship service.

Matson Navigation Company Ad

This Matson ad appeared in Paradise of the Pacific magazine in 1959.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel

The Royal Hawaiian remains one of Waikiki's most luxurious hotels. Built in the Spanish-Moorish style, the "Pink Palace" opened in 1927 and quickly attracted the rich and famous. It hosted American submariners needing rest and recreation while it was closed to the public during World War II.

San Francisco to Hawaii by Sea and Air

Pan Am Martin M-130 China Clipper

When the China Clipper opened Pan Am's transpacific route in 1935, it became one of the most famous airplanes in the world. The three Martin M-130s — China Clipper, Philippine Clipper, and Hawaii Clipper — were the largest air transports yet built. For their first year they carried only mail and cargo. But in 1936 they began carrying passengers as well and launched a new era of transoceanic travel.

Pan Am Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

Among the planes that flew to Hawaii in the 1950s and '60s, the Stratocruiser stood out. Blunt-nosed and bigger than any other airliner, it was well suited for the long mainland-Hawaii flights. It was roomy and luxurious, and its seats converted into cozy sleeping berths for overnight flights. It featured another popular perk: a lower-deck cocktail lounge you reached by a spiral staircase. Stratocruisers appear on many of the posters nearby.

Pan Am Boeing 707

The Pan Am Boeing 707 introduced America to jet travel. The whistling jetliners began flying to Hawaii shortly after statehood in 1959. They cut the travel time to Hawaii in half, carried more people than ever before, and helped cut fares — all of which accelerated the travel boom to the new state. They also heralded the end of the propeller aircraft era and the start of the new "jet age."

Northwest Douglas DC-8

The Northwest Douglas DC-8 was Douglas Aircraft's answer to the Boeing 707. Similar in appearance and performance, it proved just as reliable and popular. Pan Am, United, and Northwest, the only U.S. airlines that flew to Hawaii before 1969, all flew them. As with 707s, newer "stretched" versions could carry even more passengers and had greater range.

Hawaiian Airlines Douglas DC-9

The airline that brought interisland air travel to Hawaii in 1929 (as Inter-Island Airways) introduced jet service between the islands in 1966. Hawaiian Airlines DC-9s made interisland travel astonishingly fast. You could now reach nearby islands in 20 minutes and fly from Oahu to the Big Island of Hawaii in less than an hour.

Hawaiian Airlines Douglas DC-9-50

Hawaiian Airlines became an all-jet airline in 1973. To celebrate this milestone, it unveiled new colors and introduced its "Pualani" (flower of the sky) logo — the profile of a Hawaiian woman against a red hibiscus, the state flower. The airline has since updated its colors, along with the Pualani logo that still graces its aircraft.

Aloha Airlines BAC One-Eleven

Following Hawaiian Airlines in 1966, Aloha introduced its own jets: three British-made BAC One-Elevens. This model displays Aloha's original blue-and-white color scheme. In 1969 Aloha replaced the BACs with larger Boeing 737s and revamped its image with a bright and cheerful "flower power" color scheme.


Airway Badges, 1920s

Pan American Airways, 1920s

Airway Badges, 1930s-1940s

Pan American Airways, 1930s-1940s

Airway Badges, 1950s

Pan American Airways, 1950s

Airway Badges, 1960

Pan American Airways, 1960s

Cap Badge, 1950s

Cap Badge, United Airlines, 1950s

Captain Badge

Captain, United Airlines, 1950s

Pilot Airway Badge

Pilot, Northwest Airlines, 1926-2008