Airplanes are restricted to fly no lower than 1000 to 1500ft and they have wider standoff distances than helicopters which can fly as low as 500ft. Only the helicopter can take you into Mt. Waialeale Crater or up close to waterfalls such as the "Jurassic Park" Manawaiopuna Falls.
Island Helicopters flies the newest A-Star helicopters with the doors on for safety and comfort. When visiting the wettest spot on Earth it isn’t practical to fly with the doors off since our customers will get wet. Our pilots have found, from experience, that most passengers flying with the doors off get wet, have wind blowing in their faces and are unable to control the temperature of the helicopter cabin. Camera equipment frequently gets wet which limits photo opportunities. While doors off may sound adventurous, we find flying inside the climate-controlled comfort of the A-Star to be preferred by most customers. Our floor to ceiling windows and doors provide just as much visibility as helicopters flying with the doors off. In fact, the A-Star has better visibility for passengers in the back seats.
Absolutely! We totally encourage this by installing microphones for the passengers to share. There are times, however, when the pilot requires radio silence due to FAA rules. Your pilot will let you know of those times, which are generally only on takeoff and landing.
Yes, there are many photo opportunities throughout the flight. We do not allow tablets, selfie sticks, drones, or lenses over 4" to be used during the tours, since they may interfere with other passengers viewing. Please keep the camera lens away from the plexiglass windows to prevent scratching and also so the vibration doesn’t affect your pictures.
Yes, when you land after your tour, our line-person will be happy to snap a picture of you or your group next to the helicopter. If you are on our "Jurassic Falls" landing tour, your pilot will also be happy to take pictures of you in front of the waterfall.
Yes, if your pilot gives you an exceptional tour and you feel it would be appropriate, tips are always appreciated. However, tipping is entirely up to you and not expected.
Island Helicopters does not video record your actual flight because we do not believe it's safe to do so. When flights are video recorded, the pilot has to manually operate and manage one of four cameras. We believe strongly that during a flight, a pilot should be flying the helicopter and observing the skies at all times and not be distracted by operating video equipment. We also have observed that the video quality is poor on most tours that are video recorded. Water drops often cloud the lens, people's heads are blocking the inside cameras and when the pilots points out something on the left the camera might be viewing something on the right. We do however sell a professionally produced DVD flight tour of the island which features stunning cinematography taken in the optimal lighting, professional narration and views of all Kauai's top sights.
Passengers should wear a dark colored shirt. Light colored clothing may reflect off the helicopter windows and may appear in your photos, so black or dark shirts are preferred. Our helicopter cabin is air-conditioned and you are able to control your own A/C vent to make your seat cooler or warmer as needed. If you tend to get cold, consider bringing a light sweater or jacket. Passengers taking the waterfall tour should wear closed toe shoes.
Yes, there is a weight requirement that may require some customers to purchase an additional seat at a discounted price.
All our pilots are full time residents on the island of Kauai. Because they live on Kauai, they intimately know the geography, history and landscape of Kauai. Their knowledge is reflected in our pilots’ skilled and culturally accurate narration.
Bonnie and Curt Lofstedt started Island Helicopters in 1980, however Curt ran another helicopter company on Kauai for 7.5 years prior to that.
Everyone lives on their own island, from work to the grocery store, days off doing chores and going to soccer games, etc. On our days off we have all of Kauai for playtime. We have the pleasure of meeting people from all around the world. So to answer the question, YES we love it here!
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