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An Island Hopper Adventure Unlike Any Other

Looking for a grand flight adventure? How about flying on a 737-800 across the Pacific Ocean, westward from Honolulu to the tiny spits of sand which make up the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. It is a 15ish hour travel day which could be completed in 7 on the nonstop to Guam. ( 기타...

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tireman 6
I flew a little portion of Island hopper. A great experience. Crew is fantastic.
Back when I worked for Nixon (he was commander in chief, I was an E-4), I was stationed on Kwajalein working on the Safeguard/Sentinel ABM systems. My first trip from Hawaii to Kwaj was in a 4 engine prop plane, I got the last seat in the last row. I don’t remember how long it took, but it was as noisy and rough as riding on a motorcycle. During my time on Kwaj, I made the Hawaii (Hickam Field) to Kwaj trip 4 times. At that time there was no commercial service to Kwaj, the flights were MAC flights (Military Airlift Command). The planes were later upgraded to 707s and I think the runway was also lengthened. The MAC jets were painted in Northwest colors, with their distinctive red tail.
I lived on Kwaj, but worked on Meck, every day (I was there for about 16 months) I took a DHC-4 Caribou from Kwaj to Meck and back. (Meck is an island about 20 miles north of Kwaj) Landing at Meck was an experience; hit the runway, reverse the props, taxi a little, and repeat. There were at least 10 flights a day from Kwaj to Meck; I can only imagine the boring repetition of making that flight day after day, week after week. Our pilots were employed by the contractor that ran the whole island (Kwaj) and were a fun (and fine) group of guys.
I’m not an aviation expert, but I believe (and was told) that the DHC-4 is one of the few airplanes that can reverse the props without the landing gear being compressed. One day we had a heck of a headwind on Meck, the pilot brought the plane in about 5’ above the runway, and reversed the props while still in the air, we sat down, and the landing rollout was maybe two plane lengths. Then, keeping the props reversed, the pilot backed into the unloading area.
That was island hopping.
Without looking at this, I was thinking of Air Mike, primarily because you could do the island hop, and for another 4 hours, make the shortest trip between the USA (well, counting PGUM as the territory) and Australia. I believe YBCS-PGUM is a 3:45 flight at the least. Chop that in half and you could visit Papua New Guinea for a hop, then Australia (which you have to admit, while a continent, is a really big island!).

I always wanted to make that run. I hope UAL keeps those routes around.
Brad, it IS Air Mike. Same Continental Micronesia operation, just now with "United" in the name, post merger. Of course, back in my day, Air Mike used dedicated B727s, now the 737s are used. (For a brief time CAL experimented with 757s out there).
I used to fly for Phoenix Air in a LR 36 doing this same run as an air ambulance crew. Had the opportunity to fly Air Mike a couple times to reposition and standby for the plane as well. It was an experience to say the least. Thanks for the article.
We've still got "milk runs" in Alaska...try Anchorage to's Anchorage-Juneau-Sitka-Petersburg-Wrangell-Ketchikan...a 775 sm trip in about 5.5-6 hours
This is neat, might have to add it to my TODO list.

I loved this flight and the return flight also. I commuted for 10 years out to the FSM and the Marshals. Glad to see it is still around and hopefully be around for longer.
himsing 2
Thanks for sharing your experience. I have heard of it a lot but though nothing about MX. I think I should get on those flights after reading your report.
dax9876 2
I'm interested to know what the current flt numbers are and if this can be booked directly through
ccthorp 2
Westbound is UA flight 154, eastbound is UA flight 155 It does not appear that you can book this trip with one reservation.
I went to Kwaj before I retired in 2003, it was a great trip. Went HNL to Kwaj on a DC-8 combi. Almost went back on Con-Mic due to a typhoon, but the DC-8 (ATR?)came thru, overall a wonderful week!
mskierki 1
That was a fun read. I never knew that type of flight still existed.


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