Pago Pago International Airport

Pago Pago International Airport

When Apelu was a boy, the Pan Am plane from Honolulu would arrive one night a week at Pago Pago International Airport, on the ocean side of the Tafuna Plain where the lava flow and the sea had finally drawn a contested border of black rock, white breakers, and spray-spewing blowholes. Everyone on the island with an excuse to be at the airport would be there. Apelu and his buddies would meet in the bush at the far end of the runway where the plane would touch down to watch its flickering lights get closer and steadier. Because of the stiff trade wind at their backs, for the longest time they couldn't hear the jet's engines. Then they would feel the low roar rumbling inside them growing, and the wing lights would become blinding against the night. At a signal that no one gave but everyone answered they would all run out onto the runway to the space between the wide white vertical stripes that marked the start of the runway and the burned-rubber black patches that showed where the plane's tires usually touched down. They would all lie down on their backs, feet toward the oncoming plane, hands folded casually behind their heads, to absorb the down thrust of the noise and the absolute power of that astoundingly huge palangi creation passing twenty feet above them.

(Pago Pago Tango, p. 18)

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Monday, September 15, 2014 - 8:50am

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