Aloha from Honolulu! The flight up here was quite interesting for several reasons.
As we were checking out of our hotel at 4:45 AM on the morning of our departure, the power company chose to perform equipment maintenance and blacked out the entire island. Fortunately, the papers had been prepared for our signature and we were able to finish them by flashlight.
Of course, the airport was very dark when we arrived. It took a while to find the security guard to allow us into the aircraft parking area. We then had to go back into the terminal to execute the immigration release papers and pay the fee--also by flashlight. The customs officer's alarm probably did not work due to the power outage so he did not show. Not to worry. Just as we were about to climb into the airplane to leave, he drove up barefoot on his motorcycle and requested that we go back into the terminal and pay another set of fees. After that, we could start engines.
The radio operator in the tower mentioned several times on the day of our arrival that she would be in the tower at the time of our departure. Either she was not or her transmitter had no power. In any event, she did not answer our many attempts to contact her. Therefore, we took off without clearance from anyone.
We had been warned to be very careful on takeoff because various vehicles would cross the runway without notice. Wondering how this could be possible, we had driven out the previous day to inspect the airport. There was indeed fencing around the entire property. Amazingly, however, it had occasional gaps large enough to permit anyone to drive or walk across the runway to save time. In fact, while we were there, several cars and motorcycles utilized that time saving feature. Therefore, when we took off, it was with taxi and landing lights, strobes and every other light switch we could find in the "on" position.
Although the weather was good at our cruising altitude, there was a fairly dense overcast several thousand feet above us. This made it difficult to contact San Francisco for an enroute clearance. What to do? We did not want to go back to Bonriki. That would entail losing a day and going through the entire refueling procedure again--if we could obtain more fuel. The aircraft was working well and there was no reason why the flight could not be completed--except for a lack of clearance to proceed. And that is not a small matter, especially for an international flight. The decision, however, was made to proceed.
We were fortunate to have a satellite cell phone. As its name implies, it relays calls via orbiting satellites so it will work anywhere in the world. Isn't technology great! A call to our support person in Las Vegas told of our situation and requested for him to do whatever necessary to keep us out of trouble. He telephoned the San Francisco center, informed them of the situation, activated our flight plan and advised us to keep trying them on HF radio. Finally, about 3 hours after takeoff, the overcast disappeared and we were able to contact them surprisingly loud and clear. All was normal after that.
At one point along the route, we crossed the International Dateline and gained a day. It was unique to depart on July 31 and land on the 30th. It also made the completion of the arrival customs forms, etc., more interesting. Maybe the best part, however, is that we are now a day younger.
There were headwinds nearly the entire flight which extended to 13 hours what normally would have been 11.5. With full fuel, however, the Baron can stay aloft for up to 16 hours so we landed still with 3 hours remaining. It was a long flight. We had cookies for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly crackers for lunch and dinner, potato chips and candy bars for snacks. The sun rose and set on the same flight--just like on the big jets. Along with the setting sun, a full moon was rising on the opposite horizon. Beautiful! The first 10 hours passed quite quickly but the last 2 or 3 seemed to take forever. The city lights were a very welcome sight at 93 miles out. It was nice to reach Honolulu.
Hawaii is in a class of its own. It is said that if you envision your most perfect day back home, Honolulu has 300 of them each year. And the other 65 are not bad, either. It seems that the Chamber of Commerce controls the switch and allows it to rain only in the very early morning. A breeze is always blowing through the palms and there are very few insects. You can dine at any of the open air restaurants directly on the beach and watch swimmers, surfers and boaters share the surf without collecting each other. It may be a little crowded here but it is still paradise.
The two little travelers seem to adapt well to every situation. For such a long flight, we had planned games and videos to try to keep them entertained. None of that was necessary, however. Explaining that they were still on Stuttgart and Thai time, respectively, the Bearon and Miss Ellie partied until 4 AM on Friday night. They bearly made the departure and then slept all the way to Hawaii. Moreover, they were ecstatic to find that another Friday night awaited them in Honolulu.