Kauai - Inter-island helicopter tours

Mar 9th, 2007, 06:52 AM
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Kauai - Inter-island helicopter tours

Hi, we are planning to do the helicopter tour offered by InterIsland since we are 4 of us & they have a 4 passenger craft. I am a little nervous about the doors off option, can anyone else who had similar reservations, share their experiences?
Also, are there any discounts offered? Please let me know if someone knows of any.
excited_confused is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 10:41 AM
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Have you read the "Kaua`i Helicopter Crash" thread yet?

Although I've taken heli flights here on Kaua`i, and was recommending them to everyone, I'm not anymore. While helicopters may not crash often, the fatality rate is much higher than any other type of transportation.

You might want to just enjoy our island from the land or sea...
auntiemaria is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 02:18 PM
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Our family took Inter-island last time. If you are nervous, you could sit in the middle, between the pilot and the person on the outside in the front. In the back, are only 2 seats, and they are both doors off. No discounts for Inter-island, they do not have to advertise in the papers. They are the first ones called for rescue, they have a good reputation on Kauai. My son is a pilot and choose them.
MBnancy is offline  
Mar 10th, 2007, 02:15 PM
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Auntiemaria, thank you for alerting me about the thread, I did just read it. It is scary but again, many things in life are a risk, including teaching & letting teenage children drive - my second recently started & 2 minor (Thank God) accidents already! I will ask some of the proposed questions now which I would not have thought to do before and hopefully that will help but I think I would still like to do the tour. So my question about the doors off still stands. We would like to do that, just wanted to find out if it feels too nerve-wracking during the flight, I don't want to be too nervous to enjoy the views. Please share your experiences. Thanks
excited_confused is offline  
Mar 10th, 2007, 05:10 PM
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If you think teaching is risky you must be from another planet !
Rusty is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 06:35 PM
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Inter-Island Helicopter = A+++

My husband and I were in the airplane on our way to Kauai on Friday when we read about the helicopter crash in the paper. We had been planning to do the air tour but were naturally very concerned about the safety. Talk about yucky timing! Those poor people, it's just so awful and sad - makes you stop and think about everything. DO WE REALLY NEED TO DO THIS, we thought?

So we thought about it and decided that since a) we don't have children yet, b)it is the number one tourist activity to do on the island, and c) there are things that are more unsafe, that we should do it IF we researched and found an operator that made us feel at ease. We called the concierge at the Hyatt who suggested two operators (both in Fodors, but not Blue Hawaiian or Inter-Island). I asked more about these operators and all they could tell me was the one operator used two-way radio and one chooses to restrict the radio to pilot only talking. I was like "who they hell cares about that! what about safety and terrain covered, etc."! So I wasn't convinced about these two Hyatt endorsed operators. I asked them about Inter-Island Air and they said it was great but they can't book it for guests. You can only make reservations directly with Inter-Isalnd. I asked why and she said it had something to do with keeping the price down. So I figured that the two operators the Hyatt uses are giving them "kickbacks;" so that plus the lack of relevant information about these operators led me to be more intrigued about Inter-Island. I asked her if they were legit and she said they were very well known and they were all military trained pilots and do all the rescues on the island. Well that was enough for me! We called them right away (on our lay over in LAX, no less!) and were lucky to get a reservation on such short notice. We did the tour first thing (8:30am) this past Saturday morning.

The weather was perfect. Sunny, little wind, few clouds, perfect for flying. If it had been bad weather, we would have cancelled. After our safety video, we then met the pilot and had a quick chat with him before we went up. He name was Dwayne. He flew in Iraq and had 10 years experience flying the Apache helicopter. He thinks the Apache (what the military uses) and Inter-Island helicopters (also Hughes design) are the safest around and would not fly anything else. He knew what he was doing and I felt really comfortable with him. What's more, the people we shared the flight with were bumped from the day before due to the weather. Although other helicopters were out that day, Inter-Island had grounded their helicopters due to concerns it was too rainy. They are very conservative. Another good thing.

So let's talk about the fact that these helicopters have no doors. I'm not going to lie - this was incredibly amazing, exhilerating and scary all at once. You are locked in tight under a safety belt and have a number of places you can grab onto the helicpoter for added stability. Everything is beautiful and wonderful until you look straight down! Just past your shoe is a canyon 500 feet below. I'm 31 and enjoy a thrill, and this is certianly that! My husband loved it too. After the first 5 minutes I got used to the fact that there was nothing but a strap between me and the air outside the helicopter, and then I could really appreciate the view we had of the canyons and beaches. I mean - WOW!!! There is NO way you can feel this close to nature by going on a helicopter with doors on which blocks some of your view. I did a glass enclosed heli tour years before in the Grand Canyon and it was awesome - but no doors takes the cake. I would do it again in a heart beat. Again, it really did take a few minutes to relax and get used to the open air, but I think it made the tour worth double what we paid for it. The pilot was very gentle about the movements of the helicopter. At no time did I feel like I was in danger.

They don't do discounts from what I understood, but I think since all thier business is fom word of mouth and not hotel concierges and advertising, that they save money and pass the savings onto the clients. Our tour was $189 per person for 55 minutes of the whole island. They also have a 2 hour ride which stops at a waterfall for a picnic which sounds interesting.

So we survivied the helicopter and the open doors and we fully endorse Inter-Island. By the way, the pilot, Dwayne, was not only expert in flying, he was a very good tour guide. A wealth of informtion and very very funny. A dry humor about everything that kept us all giggling and smiling the whole time. Truly a sincere host with the skills to make you feel comfortable.

So my recommendation is to think it through and if you decide to take to the air, definitly consider Inter-Island for the ultimate helicpoter tour experience.

Well, my husband is about to wake up from his nap, so I'd better get back to my task at hand - to find a good restaurant for tomorrow! We are at the Hyatt and ate at Donderos, Keoki's and Tidepools the last few days. So far our take is that the hotel and restuarants in this island are average at best - the real reason to come to this island is the natural beauty. If anyone has any recommendations for some very high quality meal (expensive/fancy or quite the opposite) please let me know! We are going to Beach House tonight but I think it's going to be quite touristy. Maybe we New Yorkers are too picky on this front, but we are looking for barefoot elegance. I just want a fresh, well prepared filet of fish without the campy surroundings. So my researh contines...

Good luck with the trip planning!

All the best,


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amymarisa is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 06:39 PM
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An FYI -- you don't get to pick where you sit; your seat is assigned to you and it is based on your weight! They have to distribute the lbs for best flight.
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 07:12 PM
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There was another helicopter crash today in Haena on Kaua'i. One dead and three seriously injured. I'd be very concerned about safety if I were you.
iamq is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 05:05 AM
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This is about the crash yesterday:

"Gregor also says the helicopter is owned by Smokey Mountain Helicopters out of Delaware. It's the parent company of Inter-Island Helicopter,"
MerryTravel is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 05:53 AM
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Yes, it was an Inter-Island copter that crashed yesterday -- near Camp Naue in Ha`ena. As of this morning's news, "A pilot and four passengers were aboard. One passenger died. A man and a woman were transported to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition, said Mary Daubert, a Kauai County spokeswoman. A woman remained at Wilcox Memorial Hospital in critical condition and was scheduled for surgery today. The pilot was treated and released."

From today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin --
Previous crashes on Kauai involving Inter-Island Helicopters:

Dec. 25, 2005: Pilot Jonathan D'Attilio, 20, died while helping to put out a brush fire when his McDonnell Douglas 369FF helicopter crashed into the De Mello Reservoir in Lihue.

April 18, 1994: One person died and four people were seriously injured when a Hughes 369D helicopter on a sightseeing tour lost engine power while maneuvering near a waterfall. The helicopter crashed below Mana Waipuna Falls near Hanapepe. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the helicopter's engine failed due to blockage in the fuel nozzle strainer.
auntiemaria is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 06:05 AM
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I have to say that looking back, our 2 hour tour of Big Island with Blue Hawaiin was the highlight of our trip last October. I am glad we went,even happier that it was without incident.

That said, I doubt I will ever do it again after these terrible tragedies.

DebitNM is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 09:45 AM
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I was the one who just flew with Inter-Island and thought they were absolutely amazing. It's so awful to hear about the crash yesterday. It sounds as though there was a mechanical problem that sent the helicopter spinning out of control and the pilot hit a tree as he was trying to make a crash landing. It's scary to think it could have been worse. I don't know what to tell you regarding a tour. Maybe now is not the time to take the risk. My husband and I were so confident that this operator was as safe as possible but clearly nothing is ever certain. Perhaps all the Hawaiian tour operators will be forced to do a mechanical review of all their choppers as it seems both crashes were the result of some failure and not pilot error. Of course the findings won't be announced for months, even years. Anyway, I just wanted to follow-up and say how freaky this all is. We're so glad we did the tour as it was the highlight of our trip, but I can't say that we'd venture onto the helicopter again in light of the recent events.

On a different and more upbeat note, we found a great restaurant - Plantation Garden. The best spot we have tried yet! In fact, we may go back again for our last night. Inspired menu, fresh ingredients, delicious food and excellent service. This place was less expensive than some of the other restaurants and in our opinion heads above the rest. Highly recommend the Pupu platter with duck spring rolls, crab rangoon, pork pot stickers and ahi tuna roll. Fantastic! The short ribs were also amazing.

Good luck to everyone making their Kauai plans. It is a beautiful island and we are so happy to be here (and to be safe).

All the best,


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amymarisa is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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The pilot avoided homes and the crowded beach to try and land safely.
amymarisa is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 05:11 PM
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News of the helicopter crashes sadden me. I am sorry for the injuries & that lives have been lost. Our family flew with Don, the pilot from Inter-Island, less than a month ago. I would not hesitate to fly with him again. His attention to safety was indeed impressive. I have flown on 5-6 helicopter flights - three times in Kauai.
enpleinair is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 06:06 PM
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We went on a helicopter ride last year with the doors off. Both my husband and I agree that if we had to do it over again we would have picked one with the doors on. I did not enjoy the ride because the whole time it felt like I was losing my head set and because of the wind, I could not see very well. It was a lot of money to spend and not really enjoy it.
mitch1971 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 06:11 AM
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This is all very confusing! I feel so bad about the accidents and for the people involved. Amymarisa, I felt good after reading your post & felt we were making the right decision & then came the post about the other crash which I was not aware of. I guess we will wait & see, maybe the regulatons are tightened by the time we go in June. Still not sure about the doors-off option, Amymarisa did you not find it too windy like mitch1971? That is what I'm afraid of. Hope you had a great trip, we will definitely try Plantation Garden. Where is it located? Anyone else willing to share their doors-off experience would be very much appreciated.
excited_confused is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 07:13 AM
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<<<<I asked if they were legit and she said they were very well known and they were all military trained pilots and do all the rescues on the island. Well that was enough for me>>>>

The pilot who died in Kauai was a military trained pilot--with extensive experience. Not much an experienced pilot can do when the helicoptor fails due to mechanical problems!

travelina is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 05:02 PM
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FYI the National Transportation Safety Board has already determined that the reason the Inter-Island copter crashed on Sunday was because the tail rotor fell off over the ocean following an explosion! (See article at link). Some of these machines are old and poorly maintained. The FAA really has not done its job in protecting consumers on this.

hawaiifanatic is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 05:17 PM
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An article I read said the "doors off" rides are more dangerous. There is always a risk that a wild bird can hit the rotors, but with the "doors off" there is added risk that something from inside the helicopter will fly out. Unlike an airplane, when a helicopter loses its rotor, it loses its lift.
bennyb is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 06:02 PM
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Exactly, travelina.

No tail rotor, no control, no thanks.
April is offline  

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