It wasn’t until I was standing there in the commuter terminal at OGG waiting for this flight to KOA that I realized that this sort of crazy multisegment island hopping adventure wasn’t nearly as glorious as I thought it was going to to be. I was really tired, feeling woozy from the motion sickness, and even a bit cold from all the wind and rain.
On top of that, two segments had already been completed and I hadn’t been able to capture even one “wow!” picture for my Instagram feed. These flights were just as much about photography opportunities as they were about the adventure itself, so I was starting to get the feeling the entire thing had been a bust so far.
Kahului, HI (OGG) – Kona, HI (KOA)
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Aircraft: Cessna 208 Grand Caravan
Duration: 47 minutes
Seat: Row 5 (the last row – I had it all to myself)
I knew I was in trouble as soon as the agent at the gate door told me that I would be seated in the last row for the hop over to KOA. I knew very well that the ride in the back was a lot more bumpy than being up front, so I tried to use the power of positive thinking to prevent the feelings of motion sickness from coming on any stronger. And to be honest, it wasn’t all that difficult to think positive. I was in Hawaii for crying out loud – things are never so bad when you’re in Hawaii, right?
There was a equipment swap for this flight over to Kona. Instead of getting back on N839MA, we were herded towards N847MA, another Cessna 208 painted in the old Mokulele livery. The difference between the two liveries isn’t very noticeable at first, and as a matter of fact I didn’t even see the difference until I had returned home and reviewed the pics.
The interior of this plane was nearly identical to the other one, and just like the previous two flights, we moved off the gate just as soon as they closed the boarding door and the captain gave his live welcome speech.
It has been a long time since I’ve been to OGG (17 years!) so I was quite looking forward to getting a look at this airport again as we made our way out to the runway. Unfortunately, we never went anywhere near the main runway – we took off on 5 instead, which is on the back side of the airport away from all the action. I didn’t get to see anything, and once again, it felt like yet another thing about this island-hopping trip that didn’t go as expected.
We were up and away in just seconds after starting our takeoff roll, which a weird feeling compared to the long take off rolls of larger airliners. It makes the plane feel eager to fly (if that makes any sense) which is a bit reassuring when flying in such a tiny little airplane. Not so reassuring however, is the way little airplanes like the 208 get tossed around in even the lightest winds. Hold on to your hats boys and girls…it’s gonna be a wild ride to KOA today.
The first few minutes of the flight were spent flying through a solid white cloud mass, and I was thrilled to death to finally see bits of blue sky and sunshine a short time later. Might Mother Nature cooperate a bit on this final segment over to Kona? I was hoping with all my might that she was in a giving mood this morning, because I really wanted to get some nice pictures from this adventure that weren’t so dull and gloomy.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Nature wasn’t so generous after all and it wasn’t long until we were flying through a solid cloud mass again. Not only that, the winds aloft were quite strong still and we were getting pushed around in all directions flying through it.
10 minutes went by. Then 20. It was about the 30 minute mark that I realized that there was a pretty good chance that I would not make it all the way to KOA without testing one of those little white Mokulele barf bags. Oh god no. How embarrassing would that be?? The silver lining in this situation was that I was all alone in the last row, with everyone else facing the other direction. Quietly barfing my guts out into a little bag without anyone even noticing seemed entirely possible – but I was trying as hard as I could to avoid that situation.
“This is awesome Scott! Think of how fun these Mokulele Airlines trip reports are going to be to write! I’m having so much fun, and I’m so lucky to…”
Unfortunately, this cheesy motivational thinking was not working at all to help me feel better, and I reached for the barf bag and set it beside me knowing that it was only a matter of time now. We either land ASAP, or I’m gonna lose my breakfast. Shit just got real.
Those darn clouds! The bumpiness of the flight would have been perfectly tolerable if it weren’t for the fact that I couldn’t see a thing out the windows for the entire flight. Looking straight up the aisle to watch the map in the cockpit only made things worse. I couldn’t exactly understand what the navigation map was showing, and I found myself concentrating on that little display for far too long. And since there was no horizon to look at outside, there was no way to reset my bearings when I started feeling ill.
There I sat, alone in the back of this little Cessna 208, bouncing through the clouds with one hand gripping the seat and the other lying at the ready next to the barf bag. It was right at the point where I mentally gave up and committed to using that bag when I could hear (and see) the pilots cut the engine for the decent into KOA. Just hearing the sound of the engine revving down and feeling the plane drop was enough of an adrenaline rush to fend back the feelings of barf city. We were (finally) going to be on the ground soon.
The shores of the big island came into view just a few minutes later, and we twisted and turned our way down to runway 35 at a pace that I very much agreed with. This was not an easy and slow decent! One moment we were bouncing through solid white cloud mass and the next we were dive-bombing Kona. It’s almost as if the pilots saw me in their rear-view mirror and were terrified of having to clean up a big mess if they didn’t get me on the ground soon. Whatever the reason for the fast decent, I was quite thankful of it.
Never in my life have I ever been happier to step out of an airplane. It was a miserable flight to say the least, and I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the other passengers were feeling ill as well. Most everyone seemed to look fine as we were walking into the little commuter terminal here at KOA and I didn’t see anyone running for the bushes and letting loose.
The Mokulele Airlines terminal at KOA is tiny. Like rural-US-farmland-hay-barn tiny. The building literally reminded me our neighbor’s old metal hay barn that we used to play on as kids while growing up in Michigan. It was so tiny as a matter of fact, that if you wanted an airport or rental car shuttle bus, you had to call for one with your own phone. At least there was a sign right outside with phone numbers listed on it.
As I was waiting for the Avis Rental Car shuttle bus to arrive, I overheard a young woman who was also on that flight telling her boyfriend “oh my god, I’m never doing that again”. I asked her if she felt sick, and she replied with a laugh and an exxagerarted puke expression on her face. Amen sister. Amen.