Osh-Upolu Gathers Pilots on Hawaii’s Big Island

The fly-in successfully navigated the restrictions to welcome more than 30 aircraft.

Shawn Krcma piloting a Cessna 150 flying over and winning 2nd place in the Flour Bomb competition.Steve Hamala

In its second year, what organizers have cheekily termed “Osh-Upolu” gathered pilots on the Big Island of Hawaii on August 22 for fun times, awards, and flying camaraderie. The fly-in took place at Upolu Airport (PHUP/UPP) near Hawi, Hawaii, that features a single runway, 7/25 that’s 3,800 feet in length. The first event was held in August 2019.

“We probably would have had lot more planes,” said Clark Patrick, a private pilot and one of the folks planning the second event. “But the Governor of Hawaii put a block on inter-island travel a week before our event, which caused a number of pilots from other islands to stay home.” Overall, though, he was happy with the way things turned out. “We were pretty concerned we’d get shut down by the state of Hawaii [altogether because of] COVID-19. But we were able to comply [with] all their restrictions, so it end up going great. We had somewhere around 30 planes, plus 7 helicopters, and food and competitions.”

A fly-by shot of Upolu Airport, on the Big Island of Hawaii, for the second annual “Osh-Upolu” Fly-In organized by Clark Patrick and Michael Anderson.Steve Hamala

The event was blessed with winds less than 25 knots for much of the day—it’s normal to have a stiff breeze at the Upolu airstrip, which doesn’t feature regular aviation services but comes alive during the fly-in. The US Signal Corps maintained a communications station at the airstrip, then known as Suiter Field, during the early days of aviation in Hawaii.

“The general aviation community out here is a small group of folks, but we’re a tight community and have a lot of fun together,” said Patrick. “Last year we had pilots and planes from all the islands on Big Island together. We BBQ’d up a whole cow from our friends’ farm and had other pilots fly in local fish, shrimp, and other great local foods. We did a number of contests and the usual fly-in happenings.”

Trophies line up for the 2nd annual “Osh-Upolu” Fly-In: First and second place for the spot landing competition as well as first and second place for the flour bomb competition, and a trophy for our official sponsors: Aerosleek, LLC and AirBorrn Aviation.Steve Hamala

“We’re just happy to be flying and sharing our passion for aviation out here from the most remote location on Earth!” said Patrick. They’re all looking forward to a lot more pilots participating at next year’s event—so if you need a solid aviation reason to visit Hawaii, plan ahead—the 14-day quarantine upon arrival to the islands will hopefully be lifted by then.