Preschool Visits Mokulele
By Jack Kiyonaga, Reporter
Last week, 15 excited keiki from Molokai’s Kamehameha Preschool got to test out the pilot’s seat. The preschoolers went on a field trip with Mokulele Airlines at the Molokai Airport, where Executive Vice President Richard Schuman and new regional manager for Mokulele, John Filler, made the trip over to Molokai to visit with them.
As part of the field trip, the 4-and 5-year-olds learned about different parts of the plane and all got a chance to sit in the cockpit. After the tour, the class was treated to ice cream sundaes and model airplanes by Mokulele Manager Donna Tangonan.
“[We wanted] to bring awareness that other schools can also visit the airport for future field trips,” said teaching assistant Brianna Dudoit, via email.
For Schuman, the visit held special relevance to his work as a board member with the Children’s Justice Center in Honolulu.
“We’re committed to the children,” said Schuman.
Schuman explained that he works with centers on Molokai to help move women and children in dangerous domestic situations off-island.
“Once I know about it, there is no such thing as a full plane,” said Schuman. “The safest thing to do is separate them…we need to get them out of the situation.”
For Schuman, he hoped that the field trip was fun for the kids, but also could be productive.
“Hopefully at this age they see some positive role models like a pilot,” said Schuman.
Schuman and Filler flew over to meet with Kamehameha Preschool, but also hoped to start repairing the relationship with the Molokai community.
“[Mokulele] earned a lot of our bad reputation,” admitted Schuman. “We were terrible. We were absolutely terrible for dependability, reliability.”
He empathized with those who had been let down by Mokulele, especially in medical situations.
“Being a cancer survivor [myself], I realize that you make these appointments weeks ahead of time and this is your life,” he said.
Schuman explained Mokulele is committed to their new schedule allowing for more time between flights and that new planes coming will also bring improved service.