• Helicopter ‘ohana
The dramatic hours Wednesday immediately following the disappearance of a Jack Harter Helicopters aircraft showcased the closeness of Kaua‘i’s people, and the support local helicopter companies show for each other.
Minutes after deciding one of their helicopters was in trouble, Jack Harter Helicopters general manager Casey Riemer went into action, cancelling tours and using two of his companies helicopters to launch a search.
Word that a helicopter had gone missing got out quickly, and owners of other tour helicopter companies went into action, likewise employing their valuable aircraft in the search.
Among those joining Jack Harter Helicopters in the search were Bogart Kealoha’s Ohana Helicopters, Curt and Bonnie Lofstedt’s Island helicopters, and Will Squyers’ namesake tour company. Altogether, at least seven helicopters took part in the search, in addition to Ken D’Attilio’s Inter-Island Helicopters, a company which is continuing to work on the search and rescue operation mounted to retrieve the bodies at the crash site high up on a fern-laced north wall of the Wai‘ale‘ale Crater.
The staff, owners and flying crew of the companies involved are to be commended for their unselfish response to this tragedy, coming to the aid of pioneer helicopter pilot Jack Harter and his staff.
Harter’s key role in the development and pioneering of Kaua‘i’s tour helicopter industry is unmatched, and he is the role model for how to run a tour helicopter company anywhere in regards to all aspects of such an operation. His sterling reputation was reflected in the quick response of his fellow fliers, a response that also reflects the concept of ‘ohana and aloha that makes Kaua‘i one of the friendliest places on earth, as well as one of the most tightknit communities in Hawai‘i.