Barbara and James Dickinson Fly Space-A To Hawaii And Back!

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Island explorers, Barbara and James Dickinson. Photo courtesy of the Dickinsons.
Island explorers, Barbara and James Dickinson. Photo courtesy of the Dickinsons.

Although we visited Hawaii on four previous occasions over the years using commercial travel, my wife and I decided to tackle the challenge and adventure that a Space-A trip would provide. We didn’t have to wait long. Our plan was to travel to Dover AFB, DE, spend the night at base lodging on Thursday, and travel across the street to the passenger terminal the next morning, we learned of a 24-hour delay. So we decided to travel the 45 miles back home and try again for a departure the next morning. This time it worked!

Departing Dover, AFB, on 7 Sept. on a C-17 with only five Space-A passengers (four adults plus a one-year old infant) in the empty cargo bay, the flight arrived at Travis AFB, CA, (half way between Sacramento and San Francisco) in five hours. Since on-base lodging was already booked (by weekend drill personnel), we were able to spend the night at a Marriot Courtyard at military rates. We were in luck again the next morning as passenger terminal personnel confirmed that a C-5 to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI, would indeed make a Sunday morning departure. This final leg of the trip took another five hours with 18 Space-A passengers aboard who all enjoyed the commercial-type seating the C-5 provides.

Beach cottages at Pacific Missile Range Facility. Photo courtesy of James Dickinson.
Beach cottages at Pacific Missile Range Facility. Photo courtesy of James Dickinson.

Without knowing our likely arrival day in Honolulu, we didn’t make advanced arrangements for lodging, but decided to take “pot luck” and try to get in Hale Koa for a few days. To our surprise, the effort was successful, and we spent the next four days there! From a free publication, “Hawaii Military Guide,” at the hotel, we learned of beach cottage rentals at the Navy’s missile tracking site (Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands) on the adjacent island of Kauai. A phone call to the recreation facility there got us four more nights of military lodging. If one is looking for serenity, this is the place to go! It does have a Shoppette, gym, swimming pool and meals available at the All-Hands Club.

Our return trip from Hawaii was luckily the reverse route of coming to the islands and also aboard C-17s. Since Pearl Harbor-Hickham is actively a passenger hub for the Pacific Theater, many folks and planes are continuously in and out of this terminal. Our outbound Space-A count rose to 29 people going to Travis, then down to 15 going back to Dover the following day; again, with an overnight stay in base lodging. Travis did have a second outbound flight for the east coast later that morning, either to Andrews AFB, MD, or Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lukehurst AFB, NJ, but most passengers took what was available at the time.

 Riding Space-A across the Pacific aboard an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III. Photo courtesy of James Dickinson.
Riding Space-A across the Pacific aboard an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III. Photo courtesy of James Dickinson.

Like most Space-A travel, change is a consideration one must always take into account. Travel tools you find most useful are Facebook access for the live Space-A schedules and a cell phone to continually communicate with the respective passenger desk personnel at AMC terminals you expect to depart from. In our case, we experienced a one day delay in flight departures in both directions, so staying up-to-date was meaningful in our decision making!

Col. James E. Dickinson ARNG, (Ret.)
and Barbara Dickinson
Wilmington, DE
dejed@aol.com

Reprint from Mar–Apr 2014 • Volume 44, No. 2