HANAPEPE — Friday was Eleele resident Wanda Irving’s first time in a helicopter and she toured Kauai with the island’s newest heli-tour company: Maverick Helicopter.
“You get a completely different perspective,” she said after an hour-long flight with pilot Adam Chase. “Living on the island, sometimes you don’t think about it.”
Irving went up in the helicopter with Mainland friends Mark Johnson of Montana and Washington, D.C., mother-daughter duo Dezaree and Martina Kolani.
“Mark has been coming here for a long time. I met him when I was doing fishing (charters), he’d go out with us, and then we became friends,” Irving said. “They leave today and so I’m happy to spend some time with them.”
Before takeoff, guests gathered inside the air-conditioned Maverick Helicopter trailer. Headquarters for this company has a laid-back vibe with friendly staff and an ohana-type feel.
Situated across the street from Skydive Kauai, Maverick Helicopters takes guests through explanation of the aircraft and safety information next to the helicopter itself with the power off.
“Yeah, instead of doing all the safety stuff inside, we like to take you out here and do it,” Chase said. “It cuts down on the (wind) chaos and it’s a little safer, plus it doesn’t feel as rushed.”
Starting from Salt Pond in Hanapepe, the tour covers Waimea Canyon and through the Napali Coast, with views of Kalalau and other popular North Shore places. It also goes to the Weeping Wall at Waiale’ale and over Manawaiopuna Falls, also known as Jurassic Falls.
Flying an Eco-Star Helicopter, Chase kept the conversation rolling throughout the tour, pointing out green sea turtles along the Napali Coast and tidbits about the history and land use on the island.
A pilot for nine years, Chase said he’s been flying throughout the Hawaiian Islands since 2004. He started his Hawaii flying in Kauai and said he’s happy to be back after a stint piloting on Maui.
Las Vegas-based Maverick Helicopters celebrated 20 years of operation in 2016 and opened its first helicopter touring operation on Kauai in July with two helicopters.
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.
For mother-daughter pair Dezaree and Martina, the experience was one of the most memorable during their time on The Garden Island.
“The helicopter was my favorite of everything,” Martina said after her mom pointed out they’d been to a couple of beaches and spent ample time in the pool.
The staff and pilots offering the tour are upbeat about their time in the helicopters as well, saying they feel lucky to spend their days showing visitors and locals the hidden beauties of Kauai.
“I usually do this (route) about three times a day,” Chase said. “I count myself pretty blessed.”
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org