Hawaiian Air to Bring Home Original Bellanca CH-300

While retro jets have become the latest airline fad, with Continental and Air France some of the recent additions, Hawaiian Air is going really retro.

To help celebrate the airline’s 80th anniversary this November, Hawaiian Air located its first aircraft, a Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker. Its CH-300 first flew 80 years ago and Hawaiian has been working to restore the aircraft to flyable condition. It plans to bring the aircraft home to Oahu in September.

Here are two photos, circa 1929, depicting the original aircraft.


Photos courtesy of Hawaiian Air

From a Hawaiian Air statement:

In 1929, only the most intrepid adventurers were familiar with the miracle of flight.

So the visionary founders of Inter-Island Airways sought out the sturdiest, most comfortable aircraft of the day to introduce Hawaii residents to air travel: the Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker. 

Inter-Island Airways, later renamed Hawaiian Airlines, would go on to introduce Hawaii’s first scheduled air service between the islands with two amphibious Sikorsky S-38 planes. But it was the Bellanca that got residents used to the idea of traveling by air. 

And now, 80 years later, the Bellanca is returning to grace the skies over Honolulu once again. Hawaiian Airlines has found the historic plane and is bringing it back to Hawaii in time to celebrate its 80th anniversary on November 11, 2009.

Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO, commented, “It is humbling to think that the countless flights flown, the hundreds of millions of passengers carried and all the aviation ‘firsts’ our company has been responsible for started 80 years ago with this very airplane. It is a source of tremendous pride to all of us at Hawaiian Airlines that we will be bringing this seminal piece of Hawaii’s history back to where it belongs.”

Hawaiian located the antique airplane with an aviation enthusiast in Oregon and organized a largely volunteer restoration project to return the plane to flying condition at Port Townsend Aero Museum in Washington. Pratt & Whitney, manufacturer of the vintage motor that powers the Bellanca as well as the jet engines on 14 of Hawaiian’s current fleet of aircraft, is helping to underwrite the project.

“As one of the earliest pioneers of aviation, Pratt & Whitney’s proud history of designing, building and servicing dependable engines began nearly 85 years ago,” said Jim Guiliano, vice president of Global Customer Services for Pratt & Whitney. “This Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker is powered with a refurbished Pratt & Whitney WASP engine, and we are happy to help underwrite its restoration to commemorate Hawaiian Airlines’ 80th anniversary.”

Hawaiian is making plans for special flights and public appearances for the plane following its arrival and reassembly on Oahu in September.


In September 1929, company founder Stanley C. Kennedy, Jr. acquired the Bellanca theorizing that people in Hawaii would more quickly accept the revolutionary concept of flying over water to the other islands if they could see and experience the wonders of flight in the skies above Honolulu.

Thus, the company began as an operator of sightseeing tours over Honolulu with the Bellanca and later began Hawaii’s first scheduled interisland air service using the two Sikorsky S-38 amphibian planes. Hawaii’s first airline has been serving the islands continuously ever since.


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One Response to Hawaiian Air to Bring Home Original Bellanca CH-300

  1. Andrew G. 16 May, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    This plane is still cranking out firsts! I’m a pilot and an lover of aviation history so when I got a chance ride in this airplane this past Saturday at Dillingham Airfield, it was my first ride in a Radial engine aircraft. It was breath-taking and I’ll tell grand kids about it one day. It was also the first FREE flight I’ve had from Hawaiian Airlines, HAHA.

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