The Sproat family, owners of Molokai’s legendary mule ride, say they’re worried land access issues may prevent the business from continuing operation.
Photo by Catherine Cluett Pactol
The Kalae barn that serves as their base of business — home to the mules that make daily guided trips down the rugged Kalaupapa trail — is on land owned by R.W. Meyer Ltd, leased by the Sproats. R. W. Meyer also owns the land at the trailhead by Kalae Highway, through which mules and hikers must pass to access the settlement.
The late Buzzy Sproat operated the mule ride for more than 40 years, and his family has owned the business for 25 years.…
A private plane with three people onboard disappeared off Molokai’s Ilio Point on Dec. 30. After taking off from Ho`olehua Airport en route to Honolulu that evening, the Cessna 172 disappeared off radar around 7 p.m., four miles east of Ilio Point.
John Mizuno, Michael Childers and Whitney Thomas went missing in a Cessna 172 on Dec. 30. Courtesy photo
The plane’s pilot was Michael Childers and passengers were John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas. The Coast Guard and Fire Department began searching for the plane that night, and continued until Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, respectively, finding no debris, remains or evidence of a crash.…
The search continues today for a downed aircraft off Ilio Point that was reported missing last night. Around 7 p.m. on Dec. 30, a Cessna 172 with the tail number N174LL, with three people on board, disappeared off radar about four miles east of Molokai’s Ilio Point after departing the Molokai airport for Honolulu.
The plane’s pilot has been identified as Michael Childers, with passengers John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas, according to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard is leading the search for the missing aircraft and has widened the search up to 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point. HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point along with the crew of USCGC Kittiwake from Honolulu are searching by boat and air, with the assistance of Molokai Fire and Police departments.…
3:30 pm update: Maui Fire Department crews have located the crash site and confirmed there are no survivors. The downed helicopter was found about a mile and a half above the highway just east of Puko`o Fire Station. The Maui Police Department is coordinating recovery of the victims and preserving the wreckage for federal investigation.
Initial story at 1:15 pm:
A land, air and water search is currently underway for a missing Molokai helicopter. The black helicopter, with two people on board, reportedly departed Honolulu Tuesday evening and never arrived at a private helicopter pad on Molokai as expected.
The Coast Guard hasn’t released the names of the missing persons pending notification of family members, but the pilot has been unofficially confirmed as Gary Galiher, a prominent attorney and east Molokai homeowner with a helipad on his property.…
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
The Molokai ferry, operated by Sea Link of Hawaii, Inc., is on the verge of ending its services. Claiming falling ridership, loss of revenue and increased operating costs, company President and Captain Dave Jung has filed a request for shutdown with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). He said if the request is not granted, he will be forced to declare bankruptcy.
“Ridership has really gone down in last year,” said Jung, pointing to cheap air flights scooping up their passengers. “Today we’re lucky if we get 20 people a run.”
The 100-foot, three-story boat can hold up to 150 passengers, and Jung previously said in 2013, the service suffered $108,000 in losses and then $288,000 in 2014.…
For 80 years, Molokai Drugs has doled out over-the-counter remedies to thousands of island residents. This year, however, the island’s only pharmacy is tending to the health of a unique customer: Molokai High’s ailing fleet of school buses.
To celebrate their milestone anniversary, the owners of Molokai Drugs donated a new 14-passenger bus to the high school, which spent nearly $15,000 last year in bus repairs alone.
To thank the community for 80 years of aloha, Molokai Drugs donated a much-needed bus for students. Photo by Lee DeRouin
The brand-new vehicle, which will be used on Maui, is a start to replacing a collection of buses that over the years have cost the school thousands of dollars, delayed numerous trips and limited the number of students and equipment that teams can take off island.…
Molokai’s gas prices are dropping–but still hover well above Hawaii’s average. Photos by Colleen Uechi.
Recently, many Hawaii residents have been breathing a sigh of relief at the gas pump. Across the state and the country, prices have dropped more than a dollar over the past year and are continuing to fall.
A year ago, gas prices in Hawaii averaged $4.21 cents a gallon, according to price-tracking website GasBuddy.com. Prices are now at $2.89. The average throughout the U.S. is even cheaper, as prices have tumbled from $3.34 to $2.29 a gallon within the last year.
On Molokai, prices are also declining, but the overall rates are more than a dollar more expensive than rates on neighboring islands.…
By Dave Jung, Molokai Ferry General Manager
Photo by Catherine Cluett
The Molokai Ferry has been running a fixed schedule for the last 27 years, operated by Sea Link of Hawaii. However, last year, airline travel from Molokai dramatically changed, and single engine aircraft are very fuel efficient and cheap to operate. With air fares down to $39, the ferry just can’t compete in this current price war.
A new ruling by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) allows the ferry to change our schedule on a monthly basis and may cancel a voyage when the number of reservations is below 20 passengers on either segment of a round trip 48 hours before departure.…
Molokai residents traveling to Hawaii Island will have a much easier option starting in September. Mokulele Airlines is adding a direct flight between Molokai and Kona, eliminating the need to stop on Oahu or Maui en route to Hawaii Island.
The airline will be offering two round trip flights daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, according to Mokulele representatives.
“Primarily this service is being offered because of the feedback we were given from the community,” said Mokulele President and CEO Ron Hansen. “We realized that the residents of Molokai were looking for a fair price for travel to the Big Island.…
By P.J. O’Reilley
“I hate the airline industry,” is a sentiment that is generally shared by everyone in the flying public, but unusual to hear from a guy who runs an airline. But then, Richard Schuman, owner of Makani Kai Air, is an unusual person in his own right.
“All these airfare fluctuations,” he says, “are ridiculous. The airlines are gouging people, charging more on Fridays and Sundays, when folks need to fly.” He admits that the price gyrations, which are standard operating procedure for modern airlines, are profit driven, “but to me, that’s the wrong focus. We’re focused on people’s needs.”
Makani Kai Air is the only airline in the state and perhaps the only airline in the country that charges a flat rate.…