Back in 1970, a glider ride was $10. for a single-passenger ride; $15. for two-passengers going together. Flights were 30-minutes long. Sam Bleadon (still around, but mostly-retired) and Bill Star (that’s me–still around on a regular basis) [also from the mid-1980’s on, known as “Mr. Bill” ] were the two guys from California who came over to see if this “idea” of a glider business (borne of Sam’s brother Bob, and funded by Sam’s dad) would work.
For the first year or so, business was pretty slim. We were (at times) surviving on “care packages” from Sam’s folks, and the generosity of some local residents, here in Mokuleia, where we found “affordable” lodging.
Prices today reflect the current costs of doing business here in paradise. Insurance, fuel, personnel, maintenance, advertising, cost of diapers (oh yes, diapers) (to keep the bubble-top canopies clean ! ).
So here we are, 50 years later;
An international reputation as a “quality” activity; a “must-do” aviation experience (and the scenery ain’t too shabby, either).
Location – we had no choice. Dillingham Airfield and Honolulu International Airport and Kalaeloa (Barbers Point) Airfield are the only airports for general aviation activity on this island; and Dillingham Airfield is the ONLY place for glider activity.
In 2001 we added aerobatic glider flights to our bill-of-fare. Our Aloha Spirit K-21 is what we use for demonstrating loops, rolls, inverted flight, and other such aerobatics in the glider (sailplane). So now we can give interested single-passengers some added “zing” !
IN THE BEGINNING . . . .
So there we were in 1970, Sam and Bill . . . .
and PART of the reason for this longevity is good product, GREAT location (even if it is 8-miles off the “beaten-path”), enthusiastic and dedicated glider-guider pilots, and people- telling- people that there’s quality adventure going on at Dillingham Airfield on Oahu’s North Shore.
Since the beginning, this has been a 7-day-a-week operation.
After a few years in business, we were “forced” to start offering instruction to some of those visitors (and some local patrons, too) who got “hooked” by the flying bug. So if you get the hankering to get some glider-flight-instruction in, flying our North Shore skies, we can accommodate !!
I know we have ‘made a difference’ in our own little way, in some of the lives of patrons of the ‘past’, because we continue to get feedback from visiting pilots who either got their first “taste” of flying here, and went on to careers in aviation, or who have come back years later to re-experience the pleasures they remember from their last visit; or to just say ‘hello’. But BY FAR , it is the return of non-flying-oriented people who come back again and again, or who merely ‘pass-the-word’ that this is a “MUST-DO” activity, or bring friends with them to experience this ‘joy of soaring’ in PARADISE. And it IS paradise !
And as the guide-books say: “… it is well worth seeking-out “Mr.Bill and the ORIGINAL Glider Rides ….” “….Absolutely Fantastic ! ”
This is year # 50 for me. It NEVER gets “old”.
My special thanks to those people who have taken the time to “remember” WHERE they had an experience of a life-time.
If you have any comments, concerns, or remembrances, color me ‘interested’. My e-mail is: [email protected]
Our 50th year !Honolulu Soaringis known by two other familiar names: The Original GLIDER RIDES ® and Mr Bill’s Original GLIDER RIDES ®
Because of the excellent flying conditions in Hawaii, this soaring activity operates year-round. The hours of operation are 10 am to 5:30 pm (and sometimes past 5:30 pm, in the summer months when the days are longer).