A little more than ten years ago, the Cunard Liner Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) made her final stop in Honolulu on March 25, 2008 on her last around the world voyage before being decommissioned later that year.
The arrival and docking of the QE2 at Honolulu Harbor was always a sight to behold. The ship attracted a good collection of fans and photographers who came out to snap pictures of her. Over the years I’ve shot several photos of QE2 at her familiar moorings at Piers 2 or 11.
In late 2008 she was sold and set sail for her new home in the far away Arab city of Dubai. There she sat for many years, her fate usually unknown until it was announced that she will opened as a floating hotel this year. In an email that I got from the QE2 Story website and message board:
QE2 Dubai Hotel Opens
Hello global QE2 fans! We don’t often send special emails during the month, but we felt this was too important to miss.
QE2 Dubai is now available to book to stay on, and the “soft opening” date is the 18th of April (the same day that Queen Mary 2 is in port), followed by the full “grand opening” in October, when all areas of the ship will be brought back into use.
While I never stepped on board the famed ocean liner, she will forever be a treasured memory for all those who traveled on her as well as those who saw her in port and other places while in active service.
March 31 of this year marked the tenth year since the closure of Aloha Airlines after more than 60 years of business in Hawaii. It was a sad and painful time for its owners and employees, and a blow to Hawaii’s traveling public to see a long time kama’ainabusiness go belly-up.
Surely Aloha Airlines demise was attributed to several factors including a bad economy, high fuel prices, outdated equipment and predatory pricing by Mesa’s GO! Airlines subsidiary which itself also closed down some years later.
My memories of Aloha Airlines go back to my youth when my parents used to take my sister and I to Hilo Airport just to see the airplanes come and go at the terminal. This was in the old days, long before security became a major issue and obstacle to access by non-passengers.
In the old days Aloha Airlines flew a variety of aircraft including the DC-3‘s that they started up with (long before I was born), the Fairchild / Fokker F27, Vickers Viscount and BAC-111 jet. In time they would standardize on the Boeing 737.
As a boy growing up on the Big Island, I rarely got a chance to fly. When we did, my parents always flew us on Hawaiian Airlines.
It was not until my college years that I finally got around to flying on Aloha. I usually flew to the Big Island of Hawaii’s airports in Kona and Hilo, as well as to Honolulu and once to Lihue, Kauai. Aloha Airlines also flew to Waimea-Kohala. I flew on Aloha’s Boeing 737-200 aircraft except maybe for one or two times on the newer 737-400 that Aloha had in passenger service for a short time.
One of my most memorable Aloha Airlines flight was one coming into Honolulu from the Big Island. While coming into Honolulu our flight had to abort its first landing attempt after another plane was spotted on the runway.
Flights on Aloha were pleasant experiences. They were on time, the personnel were courteous and helpful and the Boeing 737-200 aircraft were clean, even though by the start of the new century, they were considered “aging” and nearly obsolete.
Aloha was one of the last airlines in the Hawaii market that offered paper flight coupon packs (around 2004) in packets of six. These were very popular in the 1980s after being initially offered by upstart (and long gone) Mid-Pacific Airlines, a discount carrier. Soon after both Aloha and Hawaiian were forced to offer them. Flight certificate booklets were very popular with the public as they allowed people to take an inter-island flight on almost any day and time. They were convenient.
In the long run, the airlines hated the coupons since people stocked up on them and rarely ever flew at the published and more expensive per trip flights. The advent of online booking changed everything in favor of the airlines. Coupons were quickly discontinued.
The last time I flew on Aloha Airlines was back in November of 2006 during the height of the fare war instigated by Mesa/GO! Flights were being sold for as little as $2 each way. It was a definite money loser for the local airlines. The public loved them. I remember buying 4 different flights for a week of travel on three different airlines, flying at about $9 per trip. Once on GO!, once on Hawaiian and I think twice on Aloha.
That was the last time. A trip to Hilo and back.
Less than two years later, Aloha declared bankruptcy after GO!’s predatory pricing, high fuel costs, aging aircraft and a downturn in the economy forced the airline to go out of business.
Today the carcass of Aloha Airlines lives on in Aloha Air Cargo, which was the firm’s cargo business that was bought out by another company after Aloha Airlines closed in 2008.
Aloha Airlines is now a memory that many people hold with fondness.
KKUA was the dominant top 40 radio station in Hawaii in the mid 1970s. They had a strong AM signal at 690 on the dial and could be heard throughout most of the state. Their main rival was KPOI which broadcast at 1380 on the AM dial as well as 97.5 on FM. KPOI’s AM played top 40 and was the most popular pop music station in Hawaii through much of the 1960s and early 1970s. Their FM played album rock tracks.
Every year, KKUA counted down the year’s Top 69 songs. The chart below is from the Top 69 of 1971 which listed Three Dog Night‘s “Joy to the World” as the #1 song of the year.
60. Love Means (You Never Have To Say You’re Sorry)
Sounds of Sunshine
62. Brown Sugar
64. I Dig Everything About You
65. Love Song
66. What Are You Doing Sunday?
67. Baby I’m A Want You
68. Frisco Bay
Society of Seven
69. Born To Wonder
The big hit of 1971 that was played to death on KKUA and practically all other top 40 stations was Three Dog Night‘s “Joy To The World.” The song was at the number one spot for was seven weeks, making it the most popular song on KKUA.
That year a number of local records got airplay on mainstream Top 40 radio. The most prominent local hit of 1971 was Sam Kapu‘s “Chatto Matte Kudasai” which at first sounded totally out of place on a top 40 format, but eventually got so popular that it went number one in the summer summer. Records by the Society of Seven, who at the time had a record deal with Uni Records (which later became MCA) charted with the singles “We Can Make It Girl,” and “Frisco Bay”. Dick Jensen charted with his top 40 hit single, “Three Cheers For Love.” The local hits are indicated by blue type.
* Climax‘s “Precious And Few” was a number 1 hit in Hawaii during the summer of 1971 before breaking out nationally in 1972. The group was very popular in Hawaii having charted several more times with the hits “Life And Breath,” “Walking in the Georgia Rain” and “Caroline This Time”.
Several nationally released singles were hot in Hawaii and nowhere else. These included “Morning of Our Lives” by The Arkade, “Life is That Way” by José Feliciano, “I Dig Everything About You” by The Mob, “Love Song” by The Vogues, “Mandrill” by Mandrill, “I Can’t Stop” by The Osmonds, “I Hear Those Churchbells Ringing” by Dusk, and “The Pushbike Song” by The Mixtures.
Other songs that got a lot of airplay in 1971 that did not make this chart included “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” by Middle of the Road, “Give Up Your Guns” by The Buoys and “Keep it in the Family” by The Road Home.
Among the popular albums of 1971 were Three Dog Night‘s “Naturally” which contained the #1 hit “Joy To The World” as well as the very radio friendly ballad “Sunlight,” a track that never was released as a single. Also popular was Carole King‘s “Tapestry”, Santana‘s “Abraxus”, Sly & the Family Stone‘s “There’s a Riot Going On,” and several albums by the Jackson Five and Osmonds.
KKUA’s 1971 Personalities included the following:
Jim Peters 6:AM Steven B. Williams 9:AM Gene Davis 12 noon Ron King 3:PM Scott Edwards 6:PM Dick Wainwright 9:PM Rick Shannon Midnight
Three Dog Night’s album “Naturally” released on ABC Dunhill album was popular in 1971 and spawned the hits “One Man Band,” “Liar”, “Sunlight” and “Joy to the World”.
Many of the songs mentioned in this post can be found online at YouTube.com. Songs in bold print are directly linked to a YouTube audio file for online playback.