"I thought I would share some comments and opinions of my 40 years at the state airports and working with the
various links to State of Hawaii Department of Transportation website pages and documents
Flight Standards District Office
The FSDO did not have direct oversite of fueling operations at state airports. If we were contracted to fuel a certificated airline, then we would be reviewed to ensure that fuel operation were performed in accordance with that airlines approved manuals. The local FSDO had jurisdiction over only those local airlines that were certified by their office.
United Airlines was certified in Chicago and that FAA FSDO had jurisdiction, Delta; Atlanta. etc. Each airlines along with the FAA inspectors reviewed our fuel operations at regular intervals.
Airports District Office
Federal Building - Ala Moana Blvd.
The ADO primary responsibility was to ensure that the airport operator receiving federal funds were in compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations / FAR Part 139.
The Honolulu ADO was responsible for airports in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Marianas.
I called on their assistance on a couple of occasions but it was clear that their relationship was with the State of Hawaii DOT-A and didn't (couldn't) assist with questionable DOT-A decisions.
Will give an example at Kahului Airport / Davis Yogi.
more on FAA in Honolulu
The DLNR is dedicated to managing, administrating, and exercising control over public lands, water resources, ocean waters, coastal areas, minerals, and other natural resources of the State of Hawaii.
The DLNR is headed by an executive board and is composed of seven members, one from each land district and three at large, and the chairperson, who is the executive head of the department. Members are nominated with consent of the Senate and are appointed by the Governor for a four-year term. No more than three members can be from the same political party and any member having an interest in any matter before the board must recuse themselves from voting or discussing the matter.
Each and every acquisition of land at the state airports must meet the approval of the DLNR board regardless whether it is a long term lease or a month to month revocable permit. Over my many years at Hawaii airports, I have had numerous occasions to wait for final approval from the board on my request of airport properties. The request arrives at the DLNR after DOT-A initial approval and the airports property manager is at the board meeting to answer any questions they may come up. I have also attended board meetings when my requested property is on the agenda to provide testimony if required.
In most cases, if the DOT-A has approved the property, the board has approved it.
I have not been impressed by certain board members of the board with their questions and rationale for denials or their rude comments to those that might question their position.
I also feel that at times the board is inconsistent with their position.
An example of one of my dealings with the DLNR is regarding property at the Kona International Airport.
During my 40 years of operating at the airports in Hawaii, the state leadership had many faces. I operated under the direction of 6 Governors, 11 Directors of Transportation, 6 Deputy Directors and 21 District Airport Managers. With the various agendas and levels of expertise, it was not always easy to navigate. My intent is not to disparage any individual but to make comments on specific events, and decisions and how they effected our business .
As of January 2022, I am retired. I have enjoyed my years in this industry, but I must say working with the State of Hawaii government was a challenge. I will share my personal comments from the many interactions over the years and supplement with various news articles of days gone by.
red star indicates additional link / info.
out of Politics
A State of Hawaii DOT-A site. A great historical collection of photographs, writings and timelines.
Oahu District Managers
1997 - 2002
2009 - 2015
I look back at my years at HNL by the aircraft that flew in and out of the main airport in Hawaii. I arrived on a Lockheed L1011 to start working on a GAF N24B Nomad, Beech 18's and DC-3'S. Then I flew as a flight engineer on a Boeing 707. The airport changed as the aircraft did. The current main terminal had been in place for about 20 years before I arrived and we have seen the number of gates increase dramatically over the years. The new FAA tower came about 20 years after my arrival in 2002. The new tower allowed for HNL Center to be moved from Diamond Head to utilize new technology. We also saw the many changes with airlines. Airline closures and mergers were a sign of the industry volatility. Pan American World Airways and Trans World Airways departure was truly a historical change and locally Aloha Airlines no longer flying the skies of Hawaii.
All of these changes, kept the DOT-A busy. All of the agendas kept the users busy trying to navigate. It all depended on where you were in the food chain... airline or general aviation. If you were not an "airline" bringing passengers to our tourist base economy your voice was not always heard.
Every aviation business regardless of size supported the bigger picture in some way.
The Barbers Point Naval Air Station closed in 1999 and was transferred to the State of Hawaii. For the past twenty plus years the state has been trying to make sense of this important airport. Master Plan?
Dillingham Airfield has had a long history of military use before the Army entered into a joint-use agreement in 1974 with the State of Hawaii to operate a civil airport. From the moment it was open and operated by the DOT-A, it quickly became the airfield for gliders as well as skydiving. This field is the only one of its kind in Hawaii and should be preserved for many years to come. I will share more about this airfield below.
Maui District Managers
1970 - 1986
2004 - 2006
2006 - 2007
2007 - present
I spent a great deal of time at this airport over the years and certainly have seen the incredible changes made to the main terminal side... the east side not so much. Tom Hanchett served as the manager for 16 years and I only got to work with him in his last year. Jon Sakamoto was his assistant
until Tom's retirement in 1986. For the next 18 years, I had the pleasure of working with Jon, as he oversaw the growth of tourism in Maui. After Jon, we had to wait for Marvin Moniz before we saw an airport manager that not only had the experience but the demeanor to work with the many companies that were needed to make an airport work. Will comment further soon.
JMH is the three letter designation for Kapalua Airport, which stands for John Henry Magoon, president of Hawaiian Airlines back in the day. Hawaiian Airlines developed this private airport in 1989 to better serve the Kaanapali coast. Chris Hemmeter had already built the Hyatt Maui and was redesigning the old Maui Surf Hotel into the new Westin Maui. He started utilizing the new airport with his Rockwell Turbo Commander 690B aircraft from Honolulu. No jet activity was allowed at this airport, so my involvement was minimal over the years. The DOT-A took over the ownership of the airport in 1993.
When Dave Murdock of Castle & Cooke developed the hotels, The Lodge at Koele and Manele Bay in the early nineties, the influx of visitors
demanded airport improvements. When the new terminal was built it allowed the old terminal to be utilized by Circle Rainbow Aviation and then Bradley Pacific Aviation to conduct private aircraft servicing. In 2015, Oke`e Aviation Services was contracted to Pulama Lanai for several years to assist with their aviation requirements. More soon.
I had very little interaction with this airport. It was only on rare occasion that we would service aircraft on Molokai. No fuel.
Hawaii District Managers
2000 - 2002
Chauncey Wong Yuen
2003 - present
Back in 1986, I joined the team at Hemmeter Aviation and took on the role of FBO development on the neighbor islands. When I first came to Kona, I would meet with Frank Kamahele at his office at the maintenance base yard. He only came over from Hilo a few days a week. Frank and I had good relationship and we would talk story longer than the usual meeting. Frank was extremely proud of the new airport and was excited for its future. After Frank retired, we had various airport managers and in 2003, Chauncey Wong Yuen arrived to provide the leadership. I knew Chauncey from Hawaiian and Aloha Airlines and was thrilled when he was selected as District Airport Manager for the Big Island. Chauncey has done an excellent job but certainly answers to the Deputy Director of Transportation and subject to the agendas of each administration.
Each year you would see millions of dollars pour into various projects and plans to meet increased tourism. It seemed that once a master plan and environmental assessment was completed, they would selected another company to do it again. Each plan showed incredible design and infrastructure. The south ramp primarily was considered a general aviation area and has not had the full support of DOT-A since its conception over thirty years ago. Example; The commuter terminal (trailers) was built in 1992 as a temporary facility and nothing has changed in those years.
See more at "South Ramp"