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Guest Lucas Kaelin

2013 Hawaiian Island Hopping VFR Challenge

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

We just finished the ZBW Cross Country VFR Challenge, and already we’re into another VFR Challenge. Rarely do such challenges come so close together, but this one is truly unique. In this challenge the goal is to touch a runway on every Hawaiian Island with an airport. We’ll start off with a couple of controlled fields, and then move to smaller uncontrolled fields with plenty of scenery and over-water flight along the way.


Prepare to avoid airspace and pay close attention to your altitude as there are restricted areas, temporary flight restrictions (for active volcanoes), national parks, warning areas, alert areas, and controlled airspace to watch out for. Don't forget to check the NOTAMs for each airport as well, many prescribe noise sensitive areas to avoid. The standard VFR Challenge Rules still apply to this event too! Don't forget to refuel as necessary and switch tanks as appropriate, I guarantee you will not be as famous as Capt Sullenberger if you do end up in the drink.


You can plan your own routings, or use a suggested plan. Be warned this is a LONG challenge, and will take quite a bit of your evening. We don't expect everyone to be able to devote their entire night to the event, so come and join us even if it's only for a few airports in the list. And good luck pronouncing the airport names!


Sun Sept 22 2013, 5-9pm Eastern

Hawaiian Island Hopping VFR Challenge

Difficulty: Hard 3/4


Skyvector (Plan your own airspace avoidance)

Skyvector (Suggested Avoidance and Scenery)


Standard VFR Challenge Rules:

  • General aviation aircraft are preferred, and at no time may an aircraft exceed 150 KIAS.
  • Navigation is to be by pilotage and dead reckoning only. NO radio or GPS navigation is permitted.
  • All published airspace boundaries and special use airspace must be avoided unless special permission has been received from ATC.
  • Proper use of UNICOM is required for non-controlled airports. Communication with ATC is required at staffed airports.



The cheater's list for event airport pronunciation:

PHTO, Hilo, HEE-lo

PHKO, Kona, KOH-nuh

PHHN, Hana, HA-nuh

PHNY, Lanai, lah-NAH-ee

PHLU, Kalaupapa, kah-LAU-pah-pah

PHDH, Dillingham Airfield, just like you think

PHPA, Port Allen, just like you think

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

Just a bump and reminder, this Challenge event is this Sunday afternoon. Don't let the airspace avoidance scare you away, there's plenty of fun to be had!

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Guest Nathan McGuire

There's restricted airspace interfering with a direct route from Hilo to kona, luckily this forces you to explore the entire big island by having to go around. Also Hana is a fantastic airport with tricky approaches from both sides. One side requires a very steep descent over trees, and the other involves a right turn right before touchdown. Hana's default scenery actually has a usable hangar as well, believe it or not.

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There's restricted airspace interfering with a direct route from Hilo to kona,

And plan on that space being used...muahaha! :)

Devon Hathaway - BVATC Scenery Design  "Cross Devon at or above 4000, cleared for the ILS RWY 9R approach"

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Guest Anonymous

Here are some pics i took during the event!


Valcano errupting in the are of "hawaii volcano national park". It stopped smoking after a passed over it.


Myself,Ben and Eddie did a formation flight over Hana and broke off to land


Haleakala Observatories on the peak of Haleakala volcano.



I had alot of fun! Thanks everyone who flew

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

Congrats to the few who flew the entire challenge, it was a good time, with lots and lots of flying! I started almost right at the beginning, and it still took a little more than the full time we had planned for the event. I guess next event we'll have to allow a little more time for pit stops, and burger breaks! We shall also attempt to pick airports which are easier to pronounce.


We did have a few pilots violate the restricted area between Hilo (PHTO) and Kona (PHKO). A few more also violated some controlled airspace that was not staffed. Remember for the VFR Challenge events, unless you have permission to enter controlled airspace you are required to avoid them. Thankfully nobody I know of flew into a volcano, or fell short and had a splashdown! Even the controllers that were online had fun with the event, Evan working Kona tower sure sounded like he had his hands full when I left there.


The other issue that seemed quite prevalent throughout the event was aircraft on the wrong frequency. The VFR Challenge event is currently the ONLY event in BVA where we use the published CTAF/UNICOM frequencies. This is due the the amount of position calls and number of aircraft participating. In this case we had to change a few of the advisories a little due to the amount of airports in close proximity which used the same 122.9 as CTAF/UNICOM. Please remember to check the chart for your frequency and verify with the list of frequencies in the event details. 122.95 (BVA server UNICOM) is still available for use during the event, but only for aircraft who are not operating at an event airport (I heard someone back in Boston while flying).


I'm looking for a little feedback on VFR Challenge events, and would appreciate it if everyone would fill out the short survey (no matter how many or which events you have participated in). I hope everyone had fun, and got a chance to see some great Hawaiian airports.


The route I flew, though not the one I had planned on, as I wanted to take the longer route south around the big island with better scenery. But you can see from the below screenshots I still got some great scenery, and had a good time along the way.


Departing Hilo (PHTO) northwest bound behind SoloWingDemon



Joined up with SoloWingDemon for the flight along the north shore of the big island



Passing lava fields



Out of Kona (PHKO) for Hana (PHHN)





Approaching the island of Maui



On the ground at Hana (PHHN)



Departing Hana (PHHN)



Flying around the Kahului Class C, over some long dormant lava fields



Once clear of the Kahului Class C, a westbound turn towards Lanai (PHNY)




Yes it does rain in Hawaii!



Departing Lanai (PHNY) for Kalaupapa



Look at the cliffs near Kalaupapa!







Finally headed for Oahu (Windows 95 anyone?)





Dodging clouds near Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Air Station (PHNG)




A massive displaced threshold at Dillingham Airfield (PHDH)



Hanging out on the ramp for a bit



Departing quickly behind SoloWingDemon due to opposite direction traffic on 6 mile final!



Kaena Point, the last bit of land to see for nearly a quarter hour on the way to Kauai



Only clouds, water, and my wingman (I sure hope he got that heading right!)






Some more cloud dodging during descent into Port Allen (PHPA)



Parked on the helipads at Port Allen (PHPA) awaiting the rest of the crowd


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Guest Nathan McGuire

I could be wrong, but I think only me and one other person maybe went into port Allen after you two. So the rest of the crowd was one or two people :D

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