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South Pacific Island Hopper- Part 3 of 5

Welcome to part 3 of our series on United’s Island Hopper!


For those of you just joining us, we left off having just landed at the US Army Airfield located on Kwajalein Atoll (KWA). Next, we’ve got a quick hop to the island of Kosrae (KSA) in the Federated States of Micronesia.



Credit: AvgeekYVR – RTWTravel

As can be seen by the FlightAware data, once again we are in for a pretty direct flight. Never fear, however! The scenic views and blue ocean waves are enough to break up the monotony.


While the island hopper operates three times weekly in each direction, not all flights stop at the island of Kosrae. While this more than likely has to do with the popularity or demand for this segment, it might also factor in that Kosrae is home to the shortest runway of our trip.


The runway here is just 5,750 feet- almost a full 1000 feet shorter than our last stop. The 737-800 is more than capable of handling such a short field, but there’s a lot less room for error than with larger strips.


Experienced 737 pilots may point out that almost 6000 feet isn’t really short at all. While less than most destinations, there are a few examples of even shorter strips right here in the mainland United States.

For example, Key West, Florida receives daily 737 services-  with a runway length of less than 5000 feet. So, what’s the big deal?


Key West’s Approach plates describe a fairly standard RNAV GPS approach that will help guide your flight right to that centerline. At Kosrae however, it’s a bit different.


As can be seen by the RNAV approach plates for the field, the computer’s not going to do this one for you. The last 1.9 Miles of the approach are Visual Only- so it’s up to you to nail that touchdown.


As I can say from experience, this isn’t the time or place that a pilot tries for that silky-smooth landing. Expect an abrupt touchdown with a bounce (or two) following by full braking and reverse thrust. Comfortable? Not really, but much better than the alternative of sliding off into the ocean.

On the next leg, we begin the home stretch of our five-stop journey with just two more islands remaining before we reach Guam. Stay tuned for more, and be sure to share your inflight photos with us in Instagram @goflighttech!

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