Island Adventure Flying Course…… for visiting and new pilots to Hawaii

We put you in the pilot seat along with one of our local flight instructors who knows the islands very well. You will be in good hands! Mike Lauro, owner and chief instructor pilot has lived in Hawaii for over 25 years and has been operating Tropicbird for over 12 of those precious years! Mike has also acted as chief pilot for several air tour operators on the Big Island.

Our Island Adventure Flying Course is designed to introduce you to the unique aspects of flying in the Hawaiian Islands from a pilot’s point of view. Much like a mountain flying course, our Island Flying Course will enrich your airmanship skills and prepare you for any future flying that you may wish to do in Hawaii.

Having an experienced professional instructor pilot along for the flight is an invaluable experience. You will gain much “local knowledge” which makes all the difference in safely enjoying all that the Islands have to offer! You will experience the full spectrum of topics from tropical weather patterns, ocean navigation and communications and island volcano/mountain flying techniques. Practice landings can be made along the way at several wonderfully scenic local airports. If there is more than one pilot in your group, you can swap the pilot seat. Definitely bring your logbook and we will endorse the Island Course as instruction given that will be especially memorable!

Mauna Loa latest lava flows from Fissure 3 …….Dec 2022 activity!
Mauna Loa latest lava flows from Fissure 3 …….Dec 2022 activity!


Flight Plans

There are many things to learn about flying in the Hawaiian Islands. The Island chain is basically a partially submerged volcanic mountain range in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that generates its own unique brand of tropical weather. We will plan a flight together, carefully checking the local weather conditions and determine the best route for the day’s flying adventure. We also cover in detail, the local air space rules and review our unique Island Traffic Advisory Frequency operations. Each Island has its own discreet frequency. Pilots make position reports and help each other sort out traffic as well as provide pilot reports for the changing local weather conditions. Can you pronounce Kealakekua bay?

The Big Island

Home of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. Our most popular flight plan is a circle island shoreline cruise around the Big Island. This takes over two hours to complete! You will see first hand how our four huge volcanoes affect the local climate and terrain features. Departing Kona International Airport southbound, we pass by the remote south point of the island, the southernmost latitude in the United States. Then, its over to the eastern cape along the shoreline past Volcanoes National Park, where the active lava flows are. From there, a turn toward the northwest puts us on the windward-wet side past Hilo Airport, where all the tropical valleys and waterfalls abound. Upolu airport on the northern most point of the island provides a nice opportunity to test your crosswind landing skills and take a short break during the flight. Then it’s southbound along the Kona Coast with its vividly colorful coral reefs and spectacular spread of resorts and golf courses! Kona International Airport can be a busy place with its 11,000 ft runway, so its heads up as we enter the class D airspace.

Our Neighbor Islands

Maui, Molokai and Lanai. We can also plan a flight and navigate across the channels to one or more of our neighbor islands. With proper preparation, inter-island flying over water is routine in the Hawaiian Islands. You will learn the strategies involved in choosing the best routes based on wind direction and cloud formations. Typically, we are in radar contact with ATC facilities along our entire route. In the process we will take in all the spectacular beauty of our island chain. After departing northeast bound from the Kona International Airport, we follow the Kona coast up to the northern tip of the Big Island, Upolu point. Then, its northwest bound for a 20 minute flight over the Maui channel to tropical Hanna airport. Following the awesome rugged coastline along the windward shores of Maui, we pass through Kahului Airport and transit Class C airspace. Then its northwest bound over to Molokai, where the tallest sea cliffs in the world grace the island. This is indeed a good place to stop for a short break. We then swing back to the south and hop across the Maui channel to Lanai, the pineapple island. Then it’s across the south shores of Maui passing by the scenic town of Lahaina. The return flight to the Big Island is dramatic as we climb high across the channel and trace the outlines of the four largest volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean. Total flight time is around 3 hours. The experience will be timeless!!!

Be A Pilot / Discovery Flight

Introductory flight lesson – Get in the pilot seat and behind the controls with a certified flight instructor coaching you. See what its like to fly high over the Kona Coast! Learn just what it takes to earn your wings!