Fly away home

  • Contributed

    Kauai resident and Southwest Airlines pilot Capt. Josh Golm has the honor of flying the first Southwest flight from Honolulu to Lihue Sunday.

LIHUE — When Capt. Josh Golm pilots Southwest Airlines’ first flight from Honolulu to Lihue Sunday morning, it will be a homecoming of sorts.

He lives here.

“It’s really quite an honor,” he said. “Kauai is a place that has been near and dear to our family for many years.”

Southwest’s first arrival, flight 1082, is set to touch down on the Lihue tarmac at 8:05 a.m. Sunday, after an early morning ceremony at the Lihue Airport. That starts at 6:30 a.m. with a blessing by kumu Sabra Kauka and music at the ticket counter featuring Merrie Monarch competitor Leina‘ala Jardin. ​

Golm, who has been flying professionally 25 years and has been with Southwest since 2005, moved to Kapaa about 18 months ago with his wife and their two children.

When he heard that Southwest was launching service to Kauai, he wanted to be the pilot of the inaugural flight. But when the pilot schedule came out, his good friend from the Big Island and fellow pilot, Capt. Joe Reid, was given that assignment.

So, Golm gave him a call and asked if he could take it.

“He was more than happy to give me that flight,” Golm said.

Reid, though, will have the honor of piloting Southwest’s first flight off Lihue and back to Honolulu. Flight 1083 departures from Lihue Airport at 8:50 a.m. Two more flights are scheduled that day, according to the Southwest website, one at noon and one at 5:30 p.m.

Golm and his wife were married in Hawaii 12 years ago. They have long been trying to make arrangements to move to Kauai, which they had visited and loved. Southwest’s entry into the Hawaii market gave them that opportunity.

“It has such a place in our hearts,” he said.

His wife and children will be on that inaugural flight 1082. They’re planning a little celebration afterward.

Golm said being a pilot allows him to be meet many people and be a part of the lives of passengers. Some are at a high point, headed for weddings, birthdays or anniversaries. Others are at a low point. He told a story of a man who was traveling for a funeral following the death of his son in an accident.

“The thing that is most important for us, people-wise, is to try to see what we can do to help someone else,” he said. “This job allows me to do that.”

Southwest initially planned to start service to Kauai in January, but moved it up due to strong demand.

On Friday afternoon, Southwest was advertising roundtrip tickets for as low as $59. Flight 1082, which is a Boeing 737-800, wasn’t full.

“There are still a few seats left to join us,” Golm said.

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Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

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