|Most holidays to Tonga will probably begin aboard one small prop aircraft belonging to the local airline that provide inter-island flights. These flights are operated from and to Fuamotu Domestic Airport, a small terminal located about three minutes by taxi from the international terminal of the same airport (Tongatapu or Fuamotu international airport, not too far from the state's capital Nuku'Alofa).|
The Kingdom of Tonga was one of the few places in the world (if not the only one), where it was still possible to fly aboard the legendary Douglas DC-3. This aircraft was built in 1945 and has undergone several restoration processes, including the most recent done by Chathams Pacific.
Douglas DC3 photos: this airplane was normally chosen for flights between Tongatapu and Ha'apai / Vava'u, when the number of passengers booked for the route was between 10 and 20. Chathams Pacific has now ceased the flights in Tonga, currently operated by Real Tonga.
|Other aircraft that were operated in Tonga by Chathams Pacific: a kind of "paradise" (and perhaps also a small museum) for all aviation enthusiasts. In the top-left photo, a Fairchild Metro III 18-seater, pressurized, fast and very comfortable. In the photo above, a Convair 580 accommodating 50 passengers.On the left, a Beech Baron 65 "Queen Air", an 8 seater plus pilot, non-pressurized. Aircraft registration number: A3-CIA.|
|We board the Beech Baron 65 Queen Air, this morning in service between Tongatapu and Haapai. The aircraft is flown by only one pilot and has a classic analogue instrumentation coupled with a GPS.|
|The safety card aboard the aircraft is written in Tongan language.|
|Soon we take off from Tongatapu, leaving Tongatapu airport behind.|
|A few minutes later we are cruising at an altitude of about 5000 feet and at a speed (IAS) of 166 knots, as shown respectively by the altimeter and the anemometer.|
|Aerial photos of Tonga. Flying over Tonga is an experience by itself, thanks to the spectacular landscape and the excellent visibility from Chathams Pacific aircrafts.|
|After about 40 minutes from the departure from Tongatapu, we arrive at Ha'apai airport: a small runway that cuts the island in two parts and where there is a small terminal.|
|The space on these small atolls is always very limited, so the village's main street intersects also the airport runway. A kind of level crossing blocks the passage of private cars when an aircraft is about to land to to depart.|
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