Destination of the Week
Hello and welcome to our new Destination of the Week series, Terror in the Skies. Before we get to the first destination, we'd like to point out that Platinum Airways finds acts of aggression against civilians who are travelling in aircraft absolutely dispicable. Terror is the Skies remembers these innocent victims who are no longer with us. It is not by accident that Terror in the Skies is our theme for September, with 9/11 commemorative services around the corner. That being said, one cannot wish away terrorism - the downing of MH17 was a stark reminder.
Our first Terror in the Skies destination takes us back to 11 August 1982, when Pan Am Flight 830 was en route from Narita International Airport (RJAA) to Honolulu International Airport (PHNL) in Hawaii. The Boeing 747-121, nicknamed "Clipper Ocean Rover", with 270 passengers and 15 crew on board was damaged by a bomb that had been placed on board. Despite the damage to the aircraft, Captain James E. (Skipper) O'Halloran III was able to land in Honolulu safely.
At the time of the explosion, the aircraft was approximately 225 kilometers northwest of Hawaii, cruising at 36,000 feet (11,000 m). The bomb, which had been placed under a seat cushion exploded, killing 16-year-old Toru Ozawa, a Japanese national. The blast also injured 16 other people (including Ozawa's parents) and caused damage to the floor and ceiling. The aircraft remained airborne and made an emergency landing in Honolulu.
The bomb was placed by Mohammed Rashed, a Jordanian linked to the 15 May Organization, before disembarking at Narita on the aircraft's previous flight. In 1988, he was arrested in Greece, tried, convicted of murder and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was paroled in 1996 after serving eight years. He was later extradited to the US from Egypt in 1998 to stand trial. In 2006, as part of a plea bargain agreement he was sentenced to a further seven years in federal prison. As per his agreement with US prosecutors in providing information about other terrorist plots he was released in March 2013 but was still in detention in March this year pending his deportation.
Abu Ibrahim was the second person to be indicted in the bombing of Pam Am Flight 830 and in 2009 was been placed on the FBI's most wanted list. Ibrahim is a Palestinian master bomb maker who authorities say orchestrated the Pan Am attack and similar strikes around the world. On November 24, 2009, the Department of State announced that it was offering a reward of up to USD 5 m for Abu Ibrahim, now about 73 years old.
The aircraft was later put back in service by Pan American World Airways and remained in operation for various carriers through the early 1990s. It served as a prop for the 1996 film Executive Decision for the fictional airline Oceanic Airlines.
Pan Am 830 was copied with Philippine Airlines Flight 434 in 1994, when Ramzi Yousef planted a bomb underneath his seat that went off on the aircraft's next leg. Yousef is related to a senior Al Qaeda member accused of being the principal architect of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Yousef was later convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence in the state of Colorado.
This week's destination is Honolulu International Airport (PHNL), the principal aviation gateway of Hawaii and one of the busiest airports in the United States, with traffic now exceeding 21 million passengers a year and rising. It is located in the Honolulu census-designated place three miles (5 km) northwest of Oahu's central business district.
Honolulu International Airport serves as the principal hub of Hawaiian Airlines, the largest Hawaii-based airline with domestic flights and destinations. PHNL is host to major United States and international airlines. Its direct connections include the East Coast (Toronto, Washington-Dulles, Atlanta, New York City and Newark).
PHNL opened in March 1927 as John Rodgers Airport, named after World War I naval officer John Rodgers. It was funded by the territorial legislature and the Chamber of Commerce, and was the first full airport in Hawaii: aircraft had previously been limited to small landing strips, fields or seaplane docks. From 1939 to 1943, the adjacent Keehi Lagoon was dredged for use by seaplanes, and the dredged soil was moved to PHNL to provide more space for conventional airplanes. The US military grounded all civil aircraft and took over all civil airports after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Rodgers Field was designated Naval Air Station Honolulu. The Navy built a control tower and terminal building, and some commercial traffic was allowed during daylight hours. Rodgers Field was returned to the Territory of Hawaii in 1946. At the time, at 4,019 acres (16.26 km2), it was one of the largest airports in the United States, with four paved land runways and three seaplane runways.
John Rodgers Airport was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947; "International" was added to the name in 1951. Being near the center of the Pacific Ocean it was a stop for many transpacific flights. By 1950 it was the third-busiest airport in the United States in terms of aircraft operations, and its 13,097-foot (3,992 m) runway was the longest in the world in 1953. In summer 1959 Qantas began the first jet service to Honolulu on its flights between Australia and California.
The original terminal building on the southeast side of runways 4 was replaced by the John Rodgers Terminal, which was dedicated on August 22, 1962 and opened on October 14, 1962. From 1970 through 1978, a terminal modernization project remodeled this terminal, which included the Diamond Head Concourse in 1970, the Ewa Concourse in 1972, and the Central Concourse in 1980.
In 2006 Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle unveiled a modernization program for Honolulu International Airport. As part of the modernization, flight display monitors throughout the airport have been upgraded, new food and beverage vendors have been added, and a new parking garage across from the International Arrivals terminal has been completed. Current projects include an international arrivals corridor with moving sidewalks built atop the breezeway leading to the Ewa Concourse. The first phase of the project was completed in October 2009, while the remainder of the two phase project was completed in 2010.
Future projects include construction of a Mauka Concourse branching off the Interisland Terminal, the first concourse expansion at HNL in 15 years. Construction of the concourse will involve replacing the existing Commuter Terminal.
The airport has four major runways, which it shares with the adjacent Hickam Air Force Base. The principal runway designated 8R/26L, also known as the Reef Runway, was the world's first major runway constructed entirely offshore. Completed in 1977, the Reef Runway was a designated alternate landing site for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration space shuttle program. In addition to the four paved runways, Honolulu International Airport has two designated offshore runways designated 8W/26W and 4W/22W for use by seaplanes.
The airport is featured in the two racing video games, Test Drive Unlimited and Test Drive Unlimited 2. It has also been featured in several episodes of the Hawaii Five-0 (2010) television series, as well as in the 2006 film, Snakes on a Plane, and the 2014 film Godzilla.
PHNL has four regular and two seaplane runways:
4L/22R, 6,952 ft, 2,119 m, asphalt
4R/22L, 9,000 ft, 2,743 m, asphalt
4W/22W, 3,000 ft, 914m, water
8L/26R, 12,300 ft, 3,749 m, asphalt
8R/26L, 12,000 ft, 3,658 m, asphalt
8W/26W, 5,000 ft, 1,524 m, water
Live flight tracking is available here.
We can guide you to charts and scenery files.
And now our video selection. There are hundreds of videos that were filmed from the cabin, but we expect something else. Flightdeck videos are rare, and that's why we'll have to do with this noisy recording of a B757 approaching the Reef Runway (27L).
Next, we have a KC-135 about to land on RWY08L.
And we end our visit to PHNL with some plane spotting.
Next week, we'll commemorate the 269 passengers and crew of Korean 007 that went off course due to navigational issues and was shot down by a Soviet fighter.