Letters for Sunday — April 02, 2006

• Helicopter companies do a lot of good here

• Helping the homeless

• Opposed to HCR 246

• Why did Ka Loko breach?


Helicopter companies do a lot of good here

It’s so distressing to see somebody who doesn’t know what they are talking about get a letter printed in the paper for all to read. The recent letter from the “licensed pilot” in Waimea (31 March GI) is a case in point.

While the author of the letter may have a pilot’s license, he doesn’t say what kind of license he has. Is he a commercial pilot or a private pilot? Is he a helicopter pilot or does he only fly airplanes? His name is not familiar to me, so I doubt if he is a tour pilot on Kaua’i. And working ground support for a helicopter tour company on the Big Island hardly qualifies him to speak on tour flying.

If he were actually qualified then he would know about SFAR 71, one of the many regulations which govern helicopter tour operations here. He would also know about the deviations from this regulation that the companies are granted in order to fly at different weather minimums than private, or Part 91, pilots fly at. If he were a helicopter pilot, then he would know that the weather requirements can be different from those for airplanes. If he were a commercial pilot, experienced in the industry, then he would know that the weather minimums can vary depending on the type of mission being flown.

Many of the helicopter companies on Kaua’i do more than just fly tours. My company was the first in the air on the day of the Ka Loko Dam break. We flew Fire Department personnel to view the damage as well as to inspect the Waita Reservoir. We also flew people from Kipu Kai to the airport after they were stranded because of a mud slide. Another company flew stranded tourists from Princeville to the Lihu’e Airport to catch flights home.

Other missions include flying repair technicians to the remote radio and cell phone antenna sites, ash drops for bereaved families, search and rescue for lost or injured hikers, and hauling trash left behind by hikers in the Kalalau Valley. Several weeks ago, I flew people up to the Alaka’i Swamp in order to release some endangered birds into the wild. Regardless of what people might think, helicopter companies do a lot of good on this island. Not only because of the revenue we bring in, but also in regard to humanitarian and community services.

The recent weather has hurt us just as much as it has hurt others in the tourist industry. Personally, I flew only a third as much this past month as I did in March 2005 … and my paycheck shows it. But that doesn’t mean that I, or any other helicopter tour pilot on this island, is “willing to risk having more burned bodies and wreckage.” Such a suggestion is stupid and offensive … especially because it came from a so-called “licensed pilot.”

  • Brian Christensen
    Director of Operations
    Jack Harter Helicopters

Helping the homeless

I am amazed that someone in the “Help the Homeless” brigade hasn’t figured out a quick, temporary solution to housing these people.

All it would take is for “Habitat for Humanity” or some other group, even the state or county, to build a compound with tents … some for families and some for single males and another for single females. It could include feeding facilities like the military uses for field operations and training. There could be shower and toilet facilities. Perhaps it could be surrounded by chain-link fencing to be sure that those who would take advantage of a safe, clean place would be able to feel safe. It would/should be located near bus stops.

Those people who are in a temporary homeless situation but are seriously trying to get back to living in a permanent housing situation would love to have something like this to keep themselves safe, fed and clean.

The state or the counties could provide public-owned land to build such a facility. After all, they do it for the criminals. Why couldn’t they do it for the temporarily homeless?

Just a thought; I’m sure smarter people than me could even make it better for everyone.

  • Gordon “Doc” Smith
    Kapa’a

Opposed to HCR 246

My name is Lei Kama, Kanaka Maoli. I am opposed to HCR 246 — introduced by Rep. Brian Schatz, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and now being heard by the Water, Land and Ocean Resources Committee — on the grounds that:

There has not been enough time for public input regarding the use of these precious lands.

All Hawai’i citizens have not been informed of the opportunity of leasing from the state over 130 private cabins located in the general Koke’e area on the island of Kaua’i.

Many of the current leaseholders are using the “recreational cabins” as permanent residents. Many of whom are employed by the county, state and federal government.

Rental property on the island of Kaua’i is at an all-time high.

The procedure whereby the State (DLNR) and the leaseholder may negotiate terms of the leases behind closed doors seems to violate the Sunshine Law.

Please look into this.

  • Lei Kama
    Honolulu

Why did Ka Loko breach?

Jeanne Van Ornum of Missouri writes the TGI Letters, “the dam breaches were acts of nature brought about, or hastened, by the unusually high volume of rain that has fallen on the Islands.”

If Ms. Van Ornum is a former long-term resident, she should know that while this winter’s rains have been quite heavy, they are no heavier than a number of winters in the past three decades. She should also be aware that there has been only one dam breach. The Ka Loko dam breached in the pre-dawn darkness sending a wall of death and destruction down Wailapa stream. The Morita reservoir was later drained and its dam dismantled due to damage caused by the Ka Loko breach. Further, how she can possibly refer to the breach of a dam which was planned and built by humans, was mandated by law to be maintained, monitored, and inspected by humans, as an “act of nature” is beyond me. As reported in the March 31st edition of The Garden Island, after inspecting all 54 dams in the county, Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general who heads the state Civil Defense Agency, said none of the reservoirs seem to pose a threat to life or property at this time. Why did Ka Loko?

  • Robert Wolaver
    Wailapa Stream
    Kilauea
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