story by Derek Ferrar
photos by Sergio Goes
The first time I meet Armando Martinez, he’s picking up his airplane. I mean, literally lifting up the nose of the hang glider-like ultralight, which he lovingly calls “my little Mosquito,” and hauling it out of its hangar at Dillingham Field, a serene little airstrip on a remote stretch of O‘ahu’s North Shore.
Going through his preflight check, it’s obvious that Armando’s steamy love affair with his little Mosquito is the stuff of telenovelas. He adoringly sweeps his eyes over her every surface: the golden fabric of her wing, her svelte “trike” fuselage, her perky little motor, the curves of the twin propeller at her rear.
He makes it clear from the get-go that he is ready to lay down his life for her. “I have to tell you, people have been hurt flying the ultralights; some have died,” he says earnestly in his peculiar accent—think Desi Arnaz meets Sylvester the Cat. “I believe it is very safe. But if God is calling for me, then I can be in the safest place in world, and still I go to Him.”
So much for “Welcome aboard.”