Farewell flight for long-time Hawaiian pilot

Published On: Mar 25 2014 06:12:02 PM HST   Updated On: Mar 25 2014 09:03:13 PM HST

A Hawaiian Airlines plane landed Tuesday morning at Honolulu International Airport with three generations of pilots on board.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' story.

The family of fliers came in for a special farewell flight.

When Flight 19 from Sacramento rolled up to the gate, it was the end of the line for long-time Hawaiian pilot Capt. Eric Cope.

"It was an excellent last flight, smooth with good air. My co-pilot didn't make much fun of my landing even though I deserved it today," said Cope.

His first officer on the farewell flight has seen more than his share of Cope's takeoffs and landings because his co-pilot was his son Levi. The younger Cope is also a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines, who developed a passion for flying at a very young age.

"I've been staring at airplanes since I was old enough to look up and see them. I always knew I was going to be here," said Levi.

Flying he said is in his genes. Just ask his grandfather -- who became a pilot after World War II and was also on the farewell flight.

"Once the aviation bug bites you. There is no antidote to get rid of it. I had it, passed it to my son and to my grandson," said Harold Cope.

The flight from the mainland to Hawaii wasn't the first time Cope flew with his son as his first officer, but he said this time it was different.

"We've had about a dozen flights together. We flew to places like Osaka and Phoenix, but this one was special. It was the icing on the cake of my career," said Cope.

His career included 28 years of service with Hawaiian. He was honored for that service after touching down at the Honolulu airport.

As Cope hung up his captain's hat, he got a little emotional about leaving behind the cockpit of commercial jets.

"I'm never again going to be up at 35,000 feet and coming in to an airport at night. I'll miss that very much," said Cope.

Now he plans to spend more time on the ground with his four young grandkids. And he hopes one day maybe one of them will turn out to be the fourth generation of Cope family fliers.

While he will no longer pilot commercial jets, Cope is not going to stop flying.

He will continue flying his small private plane as a flight instructor.

PHOTOS: Veteran Hawaiian Airlines pilot has final flight

Click here for photos from the pilots farewell flight.


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