Hawaiian Airlines Celebrates 94-Year Legacy of Its First Aircraft and Youngest Aviator.
In a significant nod to its rich history, Hawaiian Airlines recently commemorated the 94-year legacies of its first aircraft, the Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, and its youngest passenger, Ben Lee.
Historic Flight: In December 1929, an 11-month-old Ben Lee boarded an Inter-Island Airways flight, marking him the youngest passenger in the airline's history. This flight occurred shortly after the airline's historic launch of its new passenger air service on November 11.
Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker: The aircraft that carried young Lee was none other than the Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, Hawaiian Airlines' inaugural aircraft. While Lee doesn't have personal memories of the flight, archived newspapers and photographs validate this significant event.
Parallel Histories: Ben Lee's life has run parallel to the evolution of Hawaiian Airlines. As the airline underwent transformations, including a name change from Inter-Island Airways to Hawaiian Airlines in 1941, and navigated the challenges of World War II and the Korean War, Lee experienced his wartime journeys, both as a civilian and later as an enlisted sailor.Advertising
Reconnecting with the Past: Recently, Hawaiian Airlines facilitated a reunion of sorts. Lee, now 94, was welcomed onboard the same Bellanca CH-300 he was photographed on with his mother nearly a century ago. Lee enjoyed a sightseeing tour over Oʻahu, piloted by Bellanca Captain Merle Clawson, accompanied by his grandson Ian.
Bellanca's Legacy: The Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker began offering sightseeing tours of Oʻahu in October 1929, introducing people to flying when interisland travel was predominantly by ship. Despite its age, the Bellanca continues to be operational thanks to multiple restorationsand stands as a testament to Hawaiian Airlines' commitment to preserving its history.
Honoring the Pioneers: As Hawaiian Airlines celebrates the reunion of Lee and the Bellanca, it underscores the airline's deep-rooted history and the responsibility of serving Hawaiʻi for almost a century. The legacies of Ben Lee, Hawaiʻi’s youngest aviator, and the iconic Bellanca serve as reminders of the airline's pioneering spirit.
As Hawaiian Airlines approaches its centennial, the stories of Ben Lee and the Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker provide a glimpse into the airline's storied past, reminding us of the milestones that have shaped its journey.