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Lagoon Drive has had a glorious history. The main terminal and the incredible aircraft arrived and departed from this shoreline ramp.

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HNL - South Ramp / Lagoon Drive

"Aviation is proof that given, the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible" Eddie Rickenbacker

"Do the Impossible because almost everyone has told me my ideas are merely fantasies." 

Howard Hughes

 Howard Hughes""

Hawaii sits in the middle of the pacific and whether it was the first Polynesians that ventured to the islands or the early explorers, they had the capacity to achieve the impossible. That capacity continued as those early aviators ventured out from the mainland and flew west.

I find that the history of aviation in Hawaii to be incredible. The longest over-water flying in the world is between the US west coast and Hawaii. 

The flying boats of those incredible early days made way for the next great ideas after WWII. Lagoon Drive started with those land based aircraft making the 2,400 miles in 12 plus hours.

As the propellers turned into jets, and the number passengers to Hawaii continued to grow, the terminal was moved to the north side of the field.

Lagoon Drive continued to be an important part of Hawaii aviation economics. 

I arrived in 1982 and I have posted many of my stories and comments on the many pages of this website.

HNL-South Ramp / Lagoon Drive page will review my thoughts and comments of the various companies that call or called the south ramp their home.

I will also touch on the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation, Airports Division's plans from yesteryear and  for the many tomorrows.

I have done my best to post accurate information but if I missed the mark,

it was not intentional and will make corrections as necessary.

                      

Tom Anusewicz
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A State of Hawaii DOT-A site. A great historical collection of photographs, writings and timelines.
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The station was to serve as a terminal for Navy Air Transport Service and Pan Am Airways. Full operations began in 1944

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1981
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The realignment of Lagoon Drive was a major DOT-A project that made a great impact on the number of aviation businesses that could operate on the south ramp. The design for lease lot / taxiway / lease lot / road / lease lot... multiplied the access to runways for business. Once completed, there was not a rush to develop. DOT-A lease were not the most favorable to smaller operators and larger players were able to make favorable changes to lease parameters. Nearly 35 years since the realignment there are  still lots that have seen zero development. Many of the original leases, that have reached term, have been returned to the DOT-A, to be rented (revocable permit) to smaller tenants without the state reinvesting in the property. Rental "as is" until a bigger player comes knocking. 
 
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1990
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photos by Tom Anusewicz
1982
Air Service Corporation in1982. Lagoon Drive ran in front ASC, Hawaii Land Air / Air Hawaii. Seagull Air Hawaii at H.A.T.S.
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Section 2 / 
Section 3 / 
Section 1 / West End
Section 4 / East End
The sections are my way of dividing the narrative to the various pages. Sections have no official significance.
I have started with Section 1 / West End and moved east, left to right. Each section will indicate the property and business that occupied that footprint over the years. My 40 years at HNL, has given me some knowledge and insight to various stories and dramas.
A cast of characters unlike any other.

 
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Lagoon Drive

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FAA FSS
T - Hangars
FedEx Ground
  • DOT-A /AARF

  • DOT-A Maintenance

  • T-Hangars

  • Avgas - Douglas Aircraft (discontinued)

  • Aviation Academy Hawaii

  • George's Aviation

  • Hawaii Survey

  • FAA Flight Service Station

  • Air Service Hawaii

  • Kamaka Air

  • FedEx Ground

  • Honolulu Community College - Maintenance Tech

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United Airlines
FAA Hangar
FedEx
Pacific Air Cargo
  • Flight Kitchen - (discontinued)

  • Untied Airlines - Maintenance

  • Flight Kitchen

  • FAA Hangar / Warehouse

  • Federal Express

  • Pacific Air Express

  • United Parcel Service UPS

  • Island Seaplane Service (discontinued)

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Pulama Lanai
  • DOT-A building - Kahala Surf Corp. (discontinued)

  • DOT-A building - 

  • DOT-A building -

  •  

  • Resort Air

  • Washin Air

  • Air Service Hawaii - Atlantic Aviation

  • FAA Flight Standards District Office FSDO

  • Castle & Cooke Aviation

  • DOT-A building - Hawaiian Air / Ohana

  • Signature Flight Support

  • DOT-A building

  • Royal Pacific Air

  • Lanai Air - Pulama Lanai

  • Sky River

  • Hyak Aviation

  • Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

  • Island Movers

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  • Transair

  • Magnum Helicopters

  • Offshore Helicopters (discontinued)

  • Ampco

  • Hawaii Life Flight

Back in the day... grabbing a quick bite anytime of day seem to be easier.

When Lagoon Drive was realigned over thirty years ago, and the south ramp was preparing for the future, it was not clear what that future would be. Some north ramp expansion pushed general aviation to the south ramp with the construction of multiple T - hangars. The state was calling for a reliever airport, and it wasn't because they needed more runways for commercial aircraft, they wanted a place to move general aviation. Soon after the Circle Rainbow building (Castle & Cooke) was completed, I was asked if we would consider moving to a reliever airport, to Kalaeloa Airport. It seemed to be clear what the DOT-A position would be in the years to come. I believe in the Kalaeloa Airport but it is not an easy answer for some businesses. The DOT-A knows it is a tough sell and with federal funds coming into HNL the DOT-A is required to make room for general aviation. It is not critical today, but the time will soon come as land at HNL for larger airplanes and larger dollars are needed. I agree with a need for a plan for the future.
The oversees air cargo operations are important to the airport because it is very important to the State of Hawaii and its economy. So it would be clear that air cargo operators are the anchor tenants of the south ramp.

Reliever airport has been in discussion going back over forty years. They talk of the safety concerns, but Kalaeloa Airport has been under the DOT-A's authority for the past twenty years without, what I believe is, a full commitment to a successful master plan.

 In 2018, the DOT-A introduced the South Ramp Redevelopment Study
(see below)
I have reviewed and will make some comments regarding various portions of the study.
 

Reliever Airport

South Ramp Redevelopment Study 2020

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photo credit Kevin Lum
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Putting the CART before the horse?

 In 1999 , the Champion Auto Racing Teams (CART)  had plans to hold a grand race in Hawaii at Kalaeloa Airport but years before, their idea was to hold it at Honolulu International Airport.

I was Managing Director of Circle Rainbow Aviation and shortly after the building was completed, I received a call

from Bobby Peru, Airport Operations Manager, who wanted to come over with a group to discuss a proposed event. This was the first discussion from CART to hold the event in Hawaii.  The group from CART was thrilled with the Circle Rainbow facility and were interested in making it the headquarters for the event with the course turning from the taxiway to Lagoon Drive.

The CRA building needed to generate income and even though this event could be a shot in the arm, I believed it was more of a shot in the dark. As the group walked out a portion of the intended course, I expressed that shutting the south ramp aeronautical businesses down for any period of time was out of the question. They continued to hope that something could be worked out with the airport and its tenants.

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another Lagoon Drive story... 1995
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click above for more on race

We walked out to Lagoon Drive as the group resumed trying to convince Bobby and I what a great opportunity this would be for everyone. The Lagoon Drive straight away was very appealing to them. It was right then, when two Lamborghinis, side-by-side, were racing down Lagoon Drive at over 80 mph. This had absolutely nothing to do with the group standing on the side of the road discussing racing. Bobby Peru had his ops radio in hand and called airport security to come to Lagoon Drive ASAP.  The two Lamborghinis came back as fast as they did in the other direction and to our surprise they came once more. By this time , security was in place and blocked the road and stopped the two speedsters. The two individuals had just arrived on island and rented the new Lamborginis and were checking them out before they headed to Waikiki.

They didn't make it to Waikiki as fast as they were hoping.

                                                                   The CART group was asked if they enjoyed the race because it probably was the only one they would see.

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Comments

The material I posted above is based on my personal observations over my years working on the south ramp. I have tried to be accurate in my submission but may have omitted some specifics regarding various properties. In most cases I have shared my opinion regarding the agencies and business on Lagoon Drive.  I have included a "Comments"  opportunity if you would like to share any thoughts you may have on my postings. All comments are welcome regardless of your position. I will post comments unless you prefer to remain anonymous.

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