In part one of this series, we examined the longest leg of United’s “Island Hopper”- from Honolulu International Airport (HNL) to Majuro, Marshall Islands (MAJ).
Approach and landing at MAJ (Starts at 4:15)
Credit to AvgeekYVR – RTWTravel
At just a fraction of the time of the first leg, less than an hour, the next leg may be one of the most interesting commercial routes you’ve ever heard of. You may be asking yourself, why? Well, our next destination is Kwajalein Atoll (KWA), also in the Marshall Islands.
Second, Kwajalein is also in the Marshall Islands, making it a very rare example of ICAO’s Eighth Freedom of the Air, which sets provisions for carriers operating a domestic route in a foreign country.
This is made possible due to the United States’ Compact of Free Association with the nation of the Marshall Islands. Because of this agreement, American Citizens can live, work, and conduct business in the Marshall Islands for an indefinite period, and vice versa. So, if you’re an American seeking an Island Paradise (or need to get off the grid), the Marshall Islands are an easy place to do so.
But perhaps what makes this route the most interesting is that Kwajalein Airport is an active US Military Installation. And when I say active, I mean active. Unless your final destination is Kwajalein (which was only the case for military contractors and a few locals) you are not allowed to deplane at this stop. Furthermore, you are prevented from taking any pictures from the aircraft, at the risk of your device being confiscated by the authorities. Unfortunately, that means I don’t have any real-world photos to share of this leg- but lucky for us, we can recreate it!
I should mention, a great freeware scenery package for our departure point, Majuro Atoll is available on FlyAway Simulation here. I wasn’t able to find a scenery package for Kwajalein (probably due to the fact photography is prohibited), but the airport is included in the default airports in FSX/P3D/X-Plane.
The taxi and climb out of MAJ is simple enough, and again we’re headed west to reach our destination. As can be seen from the FlightAware data, the route used for this flight is about as direct as one can get.
As you get nearer to KWA, you can find some older, but still largely accurate approach plates for PKWA here
Being an Army Airfield, once again we don’t have to worry about short field operations as we’ve got a nearly 7000-foot runway.
That’s it for this leg. Here we’ll spend another 45 minutes or so on the ground, unloading those bound for KWA and getting refueled courtesy of the US Army. Stay tuned for the next leg of our journey coming next week- KWA to Kosrae in Micronesia!