Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flower Power!

The Mojave Desert is in bloom and 1960s Flower Power is back, in the form of Aloha's retiring retro 737-230 N823AL, named Liholiho. The flashy "Funbird" arrived at FTA's hangar Wednesday evening, June 11, and will likely end up in the tear-down yard. All flowers eventually die, right?

N823AL is a 1985 model, the 1,078th to roll off the Boeing 737 assembly line and was originally delivered to Lufthansa. Aloha picked her up in 1996, and ten years later, Aloha celebrated their 60th anniversary (they started as charter carrier Trans-Pacific Airlines) with a retro $39 one-way inter-island fare and the roll out of their retro "Funbird" livery, complete with flight attendants in bright 1960s miniskirts.

According to the Hawaii Travel Newsletter, "Orange was the "in" color when Aloha rolled out its new Boeing 737 aircraft in 1969. The Funbird design featured a spray of bright yellow, gold and orange plumeria on the plane’s orange tail, a swath of orange across the fuselage and the name Aloha in bold orange letters. Legend has it that the president of Boeing was appalled by the design but it was an instant hit with the flying public. And Aloha Airlines ordered new orange-hued Flower Power uniforms to go with it."

The plane is named Liholiho in honor of one of the kings of Hawaii. Liholiho was born in 1797, the son of Kamehameha the Great. When he assumed the throne upon his father's death in 1819, he became Kamehameha II. At the time, Hawaii's cultural life was ruled by the strict ancient religious code called the kapu system, and Kamehameha II abolished this. Hawaii was an independent nation then, though under a British protectorate. Five years into his rule, Kamehameha traveled to England to meet with King George IV to finalize Hawaii's independent status, but sadly, upon his arrival in Great Britain, both Kamehameha II and his wife contracted the measles, and died before the meeting of the two kings could take place.

Right: Liholiho's age is showing, in terms of boilerplate-style skin doublers filled with rivets, a stark reminder of Aloha's Flight 243, the "convertable" 737 in which skin cracking progressed to full-scale structural failure.

The Hawaii Travel Newsletter
History of Liholiho
Honolulu Star Bulletin article on the 60th anniversary, complete with some neat history notes
Wikipedia article on Flight 243
The HNL RareBirds blog has a lot of photos of when the Funbird first debuted, including the great crew uniforms!

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