Aloha Kalikimaka

Beach with lighthouse, Hawaii, 1978

After making it through a rather blustery November, I’m reminded of when I boldly decided to escape the cold Sierra Nevada Mountains and relax on the black sand beaches of Hawaii. The Mortons had the same brilliant idea over Christmas 1978, when they took a trip to the islands of Oahu and Kauai. There are stunning pictures of double rainbows over a misty Honolulu, the USS Arizona Memorial, and surfing crystal turquoise waters.

While in Hawaii, Morton visited the grave of Ernest Taylor Pyle at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Ernie Pyle was a journalist in both world wars, stationed in the Pacific Theater during WWII.  I’m guessing that their paths must have crossed during that time? I haven’t been able to find a connection, but if anyone can confirm this it would be appreciated.

Fern Grotto, Wailua River State Park, Hawaii, 1978
The photo above I found floating loose at the bottom of a box, one of the many orphans I have had to match to its roll. Once I found the Hawaii batch, I was able to easily recognize where it belonged. It shows the Fern Grotto in Wailua River State Park on Kauai — this is a large lava cave that ferns took over, growing on every surface. I’m not certain if Hugh had pulled this from the rest of the roll for a presentation, or because he felt it wasn’t up to par. (His “rejects” usually look pretty great to me).

Hang gliding, Hawaii, 1978

In the late 70s and early 80s, Hugh took numerous photos of hang gliding, mostly at Grandfather (the home of the National Hang Gliding Championship for a few years).  The comments we received on a previous post tell the exciting story behind one of the hang gliding photos from Hawaii, which shows Morton himself taking flight! The image above was one that was able to capture the beautiful waters, and the contrast between the white sands and dark coral reefs.
Maybe it’s the temps in the 20s forecast for Chapel Hill, or the thought of a Mai Tai, but Hawaii is definitely calling for me to visit again soon.  Right, Elizabeth?

Editorial Note from Elizabeth: I thought it was pretty funny when Amber said she wanted to write this post, because I am actually off to Hawaii myself next week! I’ll be doing, um, highly serious and intensive Morton-related research. No relaxing whatsoever. (Do you think the IRS will buy that?)

9 thoughts on “Aloha Kalikimaka”

  1. Since Catherine shared with us in an earlier post that they went to Hawaii to see the basketball tournament, I thought I should mention this years basketball tournament. A friend of mine is a flight attendant and shared a story with me about our Tarheel basketball team. Apparently they were quite the heroes on the plane trip home from Hawaii as well as on the court. You can read the full story here:

  2. Enjoyed this post, Amber…especially the hang glide shot. Reminds me of a special broadcast I directed back in 1980.
    On September 3, 1980, WFMY-TV in Greensboro sent reporter Cheryl Deutsch up to Grandfather Mountain to cover the annual Masters Hang Gliding competition. What made this effort unique was that the Channel 2 engineers were able to get a microwave hit from the top of Grandfather Mountain to the WFMY studio in northeast Greensboro. That was quite a feat in 1980. Today’s satellites would make this easy, but back then Channel 2 didn’t have local satellite capability. During the broadcast we interviewed Pilot Lars Isaacson, Grandfather Mountain host Hugh Morton, special guest Charlie Justice, and the man known as the “Father of Hang Gliding,” Kitty Hawk’s Francis Rogallo. Rogallo invented the flexible wing that made modern hang gliding popular.
    There is a great Morton photo of Rogallo on page 182 in the 2003 book, “Hugh Morton’s North Carolina.” On that same page is a Morton picture of John McNeely who is featured in Hugh Morton’s award-winning film “The Hawk and John McNeely.” (Morton also produced three other hang gliding films: “Masters of Hang Gliding,” “Winning at Hang Gliding,” and “Hang Gliding Around the World.)”
    On May 7, 1987, Francis Rogallo was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. His nominator was his good friend Hugh Morton.

  3. The hangglider pilots in Hawaii were wonderful hosts to us while we were there for the basketball tournament. They seized every opportunity to repay the hospitality we had extended to them at Grandfather. The last day we were there we went out to a popular launch site on top of the “Blue Wall” for the last of the pictures Hugh wanted, and one of the girls ( yes, girls fly, too.) talked Hugh into flying tandem with a pilot who had a large kite just for tandem flights. They couldn’t find a helmet to fit Hugh but they perched one on his head. Joking about his weight, someone said “Empty your pockets!” and that is the only reason we made our flight that evening. Oh yes, he had the car keys in his pocket! He and the pilot soared for about forty minutes and ultimately landed on the beach many miles by road from the launch site where he was picked up and driven to the airport with little time to spare. Someone asked Catherine, a then student at UNC who was with us, what I was doing all this time. She said, “Oh, Mama was over in the bushes praying.” The only way I got my fearless spouse to stop flying ( He flew off Grandfather, too, and down at Jockey’s Ridge )was to blow the whistle on him to the insurance company. It worked like a charm… Sadly, the pilot of the tandem kite was badly injured the next year when a girl he was taking up froze at the rim of the cliff and precipitated a disaster. And she wasn’t hurt.

  4. The picture of the hangglider and pilot over the ocean was one Hugh took that day. Someone took a shot of him (and the pilot who flew the kite) while he was airborne, and he sent prints to some of his friends. I say “pilot” religiously after one of our pilots at Grandfather wore a t-shirt with the pertinent message, “I am not a hangglider. I am a pilot.”

  5. The image of the hang glider under “Aloha Kalikimaka” is of me and my Eipper Cumulus V glider flying at Makapu’u, Oahu in the 70’s. (I had the only glider with that color scheme). It is a beautiful photo. I would pay to have a big print of that. Can that be arranged? Also, do you have any other nice photos of that particular glider? (you can’t see it in your photo, but there is also a star on each wing in the red part)
    After an almost 30 year absence, I started flying again recently. Check out (search: hawaiigliderman. I have old 70’s videos and new recent videos at Makapu’u.
    Aloha, Mike Van Dorn

  6. Does anyone know Thomas Mayer who was a HG pilot in Hawai late 70s,early 80s?
    He passed away doing acrobatics in June.Please contact me

  7. Michael Van Dorn. A name from my past. Didn’t you fly Molokai with us one time? Jim N, Bob, Russell, you and me I believe. What a hike back up the hill. The Molokai Lepers we were. Lepers with a long first e.
    I have thought of you often. Hope that time and life have treated you well. Russell said that he saw you the last time he was in the Islands. Say hello to Bob and Ginger.
    Is it now Van Dorn’s Hill?

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