Learning to fly over Hawaii Island is an awesome experience! The Big Island offers the perfect set of conditions and distance points between airfields to fulfill all of the requirements needed for private and recreational pilot certification. Not only that, but the Big Island offers stunning vistas to enjoy as you soar above it. Here are some of the sites we enjoy on our favorite flight paths along the coasts of Hawaii Island.
We are based at General Aviation at the Hilo Airport and lessons will begin with takeoff from Hilo. The huge macadamia nut tree farm south of the airport is a good landmark. The mac nut trees are in large square plots surrounded by tall pine trees that were planted as wind breaks, making this area easy to spot from a distance.
Volcano & Puna
Taking off from Hilo, we'll turn southwest while climbing towards the town of Pahoa. There we can follow the path of the recently cooled lava flow up to the active vent (Pu'u O'o) while watching for other aircraft and making our position reports on the radio using the volcano traffic advisory frequency of 122.85 MHz. From the vent we can then continue southwest to the shoreline where we can descend over the current (as of November 2016) lava flow entering the ocean.
Turning east we will follow the shoreline past the houses built on top of the recent lava flow that lasted from 1983 through 2013 that buried the town of Kalapana, then continue east on past the tide pools at Kapoho and the lighthouse at Cape Kumukahi. Rounding the cape, we then head back north along the shoreline to Hilo.
The total roundtrip flight time from Hilo is slightly more than one hour.
Hamakua & Valleys
We will depart Hilo and fly northwest along the beautiful Hamakua Coast past the beautiful Waipio, Waimanu, Pololu and other smaller valleys to Upolu Point where there is a small airport. You’ll learn the reporting points used on the Big Island Traffic Advisory frequency (127.050 MHz).
If you want to log cross-country time in Hawaii, weather and winds permitting we can land at Upolu Airport at the northern tip of the Big Island to take a short break or change seats if there is more than one pilot in your group. Upolu’s weather is quite variable. Most often there is a stiff breeze blowing due to the venturi effect of the trade winds flowing through the channel between Maui and the Big Island. Upolu often has crosswinds, and occasionally the winds are quite strong and gusty making the airport unsafe for landing. Be ready to exercise your go-around technique!
Kau & South Point
Continuing south from Volcano brings you into the Kau District and South Point - the southernmost tip of the United States! This area is usually dry and sunny with fairly flat landscape and a rocky coast, but often a bit turbulent in spots. Punalu'u Black Sand Beach and the Green Sand Beach are both pretty spectacular from the air.