Futuristic aircraft may land in Hawaii

Rep. Glen Wakai
Rep. Glen Wakai

By Duncan Armstrong

HONOLULU (KHNL) - With new technology popping up in many areas of the country, there's a renewed interest in air travel in the islands. But it's not what you think.

It may be called a first here in Hawaii.

"This is an example of the next generation of aviation we are trying to bring to Hawaii," said Jim Crisafull, Office of Aerospace Development Director.

It may look like a blimp, but it's not.

"The aeroscraft is a new generation of aircraft that uses new technologies," said Crisafull.

The aeroscraft is filled with helium, powered by motors, and when the first prototype rolls off the line in about two years, it can land almost anywhere.

"the current prototype is being developed under contract by the U.S. military," said Crisafull.

A California-based company wanted to explore the possibility of coming to Hawaii, and last month had a meeting with the State's Office of Aerospace Development. The company can only make three of them per year, and in about three years, one of them could land in Hawaii.

"In the event of a natural disaster, you float the appropriate resources in remote locations through out the islands, transport things from point to point, very efficiently and very cost effective," said Crisafull.

"There is also the cargo application. So if you want to move bread, we want to move agricultural products from island to island, this will be a very cost effective and very quick way to do so," said Representative Glenn Wakai.

Imagine this: a floating cruise ship where you could have dinner in Los Angeles, watch a movie, even go to bed and wake up traversing the islands.

"There's a lot of great tourism aspects. Instead of looking at Molokai or Lanai from the Superferry, you'll be watching it from a birds eye, from, I think, a more spectacular way to see the islands," said Wakai.

The aeroscraft will travel at about 110 miles per hour and cruise at an altitude of 8,000 feet. That's slower and lower than most aircraft, but without all the baggage.

The view from the aeroscraft could also make for a great way to get married. The State projects a 7% to 10% increase in weddings, and an 8% increase in high-end tourism.