Another helicopter company to start flying

  • Contributed photo by Maverick Helicopters

    This is a view from one of Maverick Helicopters’ Airbus Ec130/H130 ECO-Star helicopters, set to start giving tours on Kauai in the second quarter of 2018.

  • Contributed photo by Maverick Helicopters

    One of Maverick Helicopters’ Airbus Ec130/H130 ECO-Star helicopters cruises over the Napali Coast.

HANAPEPE — Maverick Helicopters is adding its own choppers to Kauai skies sometime in early summer of 2018, to the disgruntlement of some residents.

“Maverick Helicopters is thrilled to offer our customers an unforgettable experience on the Garden Isle,” said Bryan Kroten, vice president of marketing at Maverick Helicopters. “With most of Kauai’s striking geographic marvels inaccessible by foot or road, helicopter travel provides the best way to see the island’s natural beauty.”

Airbus Ec130/H130 ECO-Star helicopters make up Maverick Helicopters’ fleet, which numbers at about 50 aircraft and is currently the largest and youngest out of all the tour-based aviation companies in the world.

In 2016, the company celebrated 20 years of operation as one of the world’s leading tourism companies, said a Maverick spokesperson.

The 2018 second-quarter arrival of the Las Vegas-based company adds to the more than 10 touring companies that use helicopters on Kauai to provide views of places like Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast.

Some of that activity comes out of the Port Allen Airport, which is situated near the Hanapepe salt pans — the only place in the world where Hawaiian salt is still farmed.

The salt is harvested after ocean water flows through shallow wells and into the salt beds and is put through a traditional drying process. Salt-makers say operations at the airport put a kink in that process.

“They’re always back-filling because they built it so close that he waves are always hitting their fence,” said Ku‘ulei Santos, whose family has been making salt in Hanapepe for generations.

The noise — from helicopters and other aircraft — is a nuisance, and the aircraft kick up dust during their activities. But Santos said the interruption of water flow has the most impact.

“They’re not being good neighbors,” Santos said. “This is the only place in the world that makes Hawaiian salt, and here you have these companies carrying on. How is that possible?”

The salt flats, located near Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe, are at a lower elevation than the surrounding area, Santos pointed out, which means any run-off and pollution ends up in the salt.

“Everything flows to us, and we’re surrounded,” Santos said. “We want to protect the only place that does this (makes Hawaiian salt).”

Kauai is the second of the Hawaiian Islands on which Maverick Helicopters has established operations. The company began on Maui in 2015 and has been successfully operating for three years.

The Port Allen location will be the company’s sixth permanent location, adding to operations out of Maui, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon South Rim, and Grand Canyon West Rim. Currently Maverick Helicopters flies more than 250,000 guests annually out of their locations.

On Kauai, the company plans to start with two helicopters and will be hiring local staff, according to company spokeswoman Brigitte Ruiz.

Maverick Helicopters employs some of the industry’s top pilots, and has received accolades including the Federal Aviation Administration’s Award of Excellence “Diamond Award” from 2011-2016; Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association’s “Best Air Tour Company” 2010-2017; TripAdvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” Hall of Fame 2011-2016; and Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “Best Tour” in 2014 and 2016.

  1. rk669 January 23, 2018 2:10 am Reply

    Tax Revenues and Jobs,MAGA!

    1. Sunrise_blue January 23, 2018 2:39 pm Reply

      He’s richer than Ron Kouchi. Or Yukimura. Sole proprietor

    2. lawaibob January 23, 2018 2:43 pm Reply

      Internet Trolls and Repeated Lies, Many Are Getting Arrested!

  2. Makaala Kaaumoana January 23, 2018 6:29 am Reply

    This expansion of a commercial tourism activity is yet another example of selling Kauai. Environment and culture not considered.

  3. gordon oswald January 23, 2018 8:08 am Reply

    You must be kidding!! Helicopters expanding ONTO KAUAI for the “pleasure of tourists to better enjoy their experience”?? How about those who live here, hike here, rest on serene beaches here, and otherwise came here to enjoy nature, NOT HELICOPTERS FLYING OVER OUR HEADS! Please, stop all helicopters from polluting the ears, eyes, and senses of everyone on the ground they fly over! Helicopters are already killing the serenity and wonderful experience for every tourist that doesn’t use them. And that’s the majority of tourists! In other words, GET YOUR NOISE POLLUTING, EYESORE, UGLY BEHEMOUTHS OUT OF KAUAI! ALL OF YOU!

  4. kauaiboy January 23, 2018 8:10 am Reply

    Oh, wonderful. Yet another profit-based company with a license to disrupt the peace and quiet of Kauai’s remote areas. Until they can make these machines fly silently, they should all be banned. The tourist dollars will still come to Kauai and we can all enjoy our wilderness solitude without these obnoxious oversized mosquitoes. Residents and visitors who are disrupted can be forgiven for wanting to swat them out of the sky.

  5. PauloT January 23, 2018 9:24 am Reply

    This is all we need.

    Has anyone given any thought to the residents? No, we are just tools to be used as mostly low paid employees to help tourism companies rake it in while the rest of us plug our ears and grit our teeth when choppers are overhead or when we try to find a quiet, uncrowded beach or drive down the jammed packed street. Has even one thing been done about the low flying helicopters that continually fly low over Wailua Homesteads when the cloud ceiling is low? No, we are supposed to live with it and the ever more noise added to the mix.

    Is it possible to get advocates for the people, not tourism, to run for council? Can a citizen group file suit to stop this kind of increased activity?

    1. Sunrise_blue January 23, 2018 2:46 pm Reply

      Actually Act 185, for tourism. Since 1970. A PPBS. Federal and now state funds. HTA

  6. Sunrise_blue January 23, 2018 3:52 pm Reply

    What could the owner possibly want to discuss with the county council? He has to protect his investment. I am sure the owner thinks highly of himself and feels he is better than Ron Kouchi, Ross Kagawa, and maybe even Joanne Yukimura. Ron Kouchi and Ross Kagawa were afraid to take exams in high school or just didn’t care. Why are they caring about it now? Certainly newer paper work formed. But the end result is they are still not smart enough.

  7. Steve Martin January 23, 2018 4:06 pm Reply

    Since the airlines are adding more flights that means the visitors will increase. Let’s add more rental car businesses as well. Road rage is already getting a good start and with more helicopters the next thing we will hear is people shooting at the copters, which wouldn’t surprise me. What’s next? Enough already !!!

  8. Sunrise_blue January 23, 2018 4:23 pm Reply

    Lihue Airport. “Hello, welcome to company. I’m Amanda, what can we do for you today?”

    Who is the ideal worker? Name what you look for in a worker manning your company worth $200,000 million dollars.

    We would like to know.

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