Hawaiian welcomes back first plane

Patricia Kennedy Scott
Patricia Kennedy Scott
Mark Dunkerley
Mark Dunkerley

By Kristine Uyeno - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Today, Hawaiian Airlines held a special homecoming.

The carrier welcomed back a rare artifact of aviation history.

Some special people were there to witness it.

Patricia Kennedy Scott admires the 1929 Bellanca Pacemaker. She may not remember it, but she has a special bond with this airplane.

"But I was told I was onboard with my mother when it first got out here," she said.

She was just 3 years old when she became a passenger on the first public flight for Inter-Island Airways. Her father founded the company which was later renamed, Hawaiian Airlines.

"It's just a thrill to be out here. It's just wonderful," she said.

This is the actual plane that started the company. Hawaiian acquired it this year from an aviation enthusiast in Oregon. On Thursday, the carrier held a special ceremony, welcoming the Bellanca home for good.

"The Bellanca, which was our very first aircraft, is really an artifact, not just in history for Hawaiian Airlines, which is really important, but frankly for the state of Hawaii," said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines.

The ceremony included a Hawaiian blessing and special guests, including an excited governor.

"When I walked up today and I saw this plane, I felt like a little kid an I dunno what it was, it sort of came over me. I thought it's so neat, I wanna go see it," said Gov. Linda Lingle.

This is the Bellanca's third restoration, making over, just about everything.

"I know of no other airline in the world that can claim that the original airplane that started it all for them, is alive and well, and is in flying condition," said Dunkerley.

And that's great news for Mrs. Scott.

"Well I'd like to get on and ride it again," she said.

Hawaiian Airlines plans to keep the Bellanca in the skies.

Company officials are talking about doing promotional projects and events, so the public can check out the airplane.