Wood Craft

Ben Wood

Saturday, October 9, 2004

John Browning looks
forward to taking
a flight into space

Isle resident John Browning likes fast cars and boats and now he's preparing for his fastest adventure of all, a rocket plane flight into space. John and his wife, Tammy, have one of 100 memberships in the New Spirit of St. Louis organization. A rocket plane ripped through the Earth's atmosphere Monday to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize to encourage space tourism. Big names such as Tom Hanks, Richard Branson, Paul Allen and Tom Clancy are involved in the space-travel program. John is looking forward to being a space tourist. At the end of the month he will go to Florida to experience a ride on the G-force aircraft, which involves weightlessness in flight that astronauts experience. He said he may be able to blast off into space in about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years on Branson's Virgin Galactic aircraft. "At 35 years old, for me to have the chance to be in the next step in air travel is like Lindbergh's flight," John said. "I have the opportunity to go into space in my lifetime and know that my children will be able to experience space travel." John and Tammy don't have kids yet but they hope to have a "little astronaut before long," John said ...

Hank McKeague surprised on 75th birthday

Hank McKeague thought he was going to a surprise birthday luncheon for longtime pal Paul Lewis Oct. 1, so he packed up 20 bottles of champagne and took them to Buffet 100 Chinese restaurant. But when he got there, he found about 50 of his family and friends there to surprise him for his upcoming 75th birthday. Hank, who often writes letters to the editors of both Honolulu dailies, has packed a lot into those 75 years. He was Roosevelt's best all-around athlete in the Class of '48, went on to graduate from UH, and has been a police officer, owner of a bar and Hawaiian food eatery, a Realtor and a social worker. The old Makaha Sons of Niihau -- Skippy and Israel Kamakawiwoole, Louis "Moon" Kauakahi and Mel Amina -- performed regularly at Hank's Place. Hank is also a composer and he sang some of his songs, backed by singer-guitarist Ryan Tang, at the party. Ryan's brother, Bubba, also sang. Throughout the luncheon, Imaikalani Young and Friends harmonized on Hawaiian, jazz and pops tunes. The blast, which Hank called "awesome," was organized by Hank's wife, Bev, with help from his family members, including Henrietta Lee, Sheila Kauwe and Donnette Markham. Donnette's mom is the former Iwalani Lum-King, a onetime Lei Day queen who is married to golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez ...

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Ben Wood, who sold the Star-Bulletin in the streets of downtown Honolulu during World War II, writes of people, places and things every Wednesday and Saturday. E-mail him at bwood@starbulletin.com



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