Monday, December 26, 2005

Wings of Paradise: Hawaii's Incomparable Airlines

Recently received my copy of this new book, and read it over the holiday weekend. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it to anyone interested in Hawaii's aviation history. Unlike some of the previous books, it covers the entire industry, rather than focusing on either Hawaiian Airlines (as in Kennedy's Hawaiian Air) or Aloha Airlines (50 Years of Aloha, published by Aloha Airlines itself). Both of these books are slanted towards the history of the airline's story they're trying to tell, such as often referring to Aloha as "Brand X" in Kennedy's Hawaiian Air. You get some of this feeling from Wings of Paradise, as well, but because it alternates between telling the story of Hawaiian, Aloha, Mid Pacific, Royal Hawaiian, Discovery, Mahalo, and others, you get a pretty balanced picture in the end.

My biggest complaint with the book is that it's a bit short on recent details. Coverage of Island Air, for example, is pretty much limited to the start as Princeville Airways, the acquisition by Aloha and name change to Aloha IslandAir, the crash on Molokai, and the final name change to Island Air, and the sale to Gavarnie Holding, though the acquiring company isn't mentioned by name in the book. Omitted from Island Air's history is the airline's brief flirtation with the Dornier Do 228 and eventual replacement of the Twin Otters with the Dash 8. It also missed the point that a contributing factor to Mahalo Air's downfall was the replacement of new ATR-42s with older examples that ended up costing the airline a lot in maintenance expenses. I can forgive omission of some of the recent events due to the lead time in book publishing, such as Island Air's planned acquisition of Q400 aircraft and details on Mesa and FlyHawaii's plans (though FlyHawaii is also not mentioned by name). But completely omitting Pacific Wings is a definite oversight.

However, one must keep in mind that it's easer to find out about more recent events, and perhaps omitting them now is reasonable course of action in favor of waiting to see how they effect the industry in the long term.


Anonymous said...

i spoke with Peter Forman on his omission of several smaller airlines, and he simply mentioned he could not mention every single operator in his book, there are hundreds. Rather, he focused on those that made greater impacts on Aviation in Hawaii.

I enjoyed the book, even though my families part 135 operation was also omitted, I felt he did a great job.

I hope Peter slams mesa hard in any future revisions for what they obviously tried to do to Aloha.

David said...

I agree, the book was good overall. And one disadvantage of book over web publishing is the limits on how much you can write. Though some of us might like it, I suspect a Harry Potter-sized book on Hawaii's airline history might be a harder sell.

I know there are plenty of people who dislike Mesa for various reasons, but I think it's inappropriate for Peter to slam Mesa overall. Certainly, he ought to put out the facts the facts and Mesa might come out looking bad to the reader. Look at the sections detailing the Hawaiian/Aloha merger attempts. Peter doesn't say outright that Hawaiian used merger as a cover for an attempt to take out Aloha, but just leaves it for the reader to come to that conclusion if they wish, and telling it from Aloha's perspective can help.

There's a difference between factually telling the story in a certain way, and outright drawing conclusions. Nowhere in the book does Peter explicitly say that Hawaiian used merger as a cover. Along the same lines, I would hope he doesn't explicitly say that Mesa was bad.