The Explainer: No, It’s Not a Plane Crash

Cheer up, all you tourists and recently relocated residents of Maui—no passengers have been harmed in the making of this regularly recurring sight. It’s only a joint training exercise by the airport’s firefighting units in case something ever does go wrong....
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If a plane had actually gone down every time a giant plume of black smoke rises up from a burning fuselage at Kahului Airport, it would truly be a big story, a bigger problem, and arguably make Maui’s OGG the worst airport in the history of aviation. But cheer up, all you tourists and recently relocated residents of Maui—no passengers have been harmed in the making of this regularly recurring sight. It’s only a joint training exercise by the airport’s firefighting units in case something ever does go wrong.

Photo by Paul Saad

In fact, all that black smoke just means that everybody is actually safer when they fly in and out of Maui County. By conducting such realistic training exercises, firefighters are better prepared to save lives in the event of an accident. Teams from all four major Maui County airports are joined by County fire crews for the practice sessions, which are required by the FAA. (The Kalaupapa and Hāna Airports do not have their own fire crews on site.) 

If you paid close attention to County, airport, or Fire Department social media feeds, you’d not only be bored with too much time on your hands, you’d also know when the next burning-plane, fire-suppressing practice session would be taking place. This would not only lower your stress level but also help to reduce those road-side gawkers who tend to slow down the endless parade of Hana Highway traffic. 

So next time your visiting cousin runs into the house telling you it looks like a plane crashed at the airport, you can set them right…or look really shocked and have a little fun at his or her expense. Just kidding. Who’d do something that cruel?

Joel Dyer

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