September 15, 2020
In the late 1980’s, working at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, I personally saw 3 helicopters go down in front of me within a couple year span. This is when the heliport pad was located at the end of the beach and the Ala Wai boat harbor. As a resident of Kailua, I’ve seen the wreckage of a helicopter spread across our neighborhood. We’ve seen the horror stories of the crashes on Kauai and Maui. So many fatalities. Helicopters have no place traveling across our neighborhoods. They drop from the sky and almost always kill someone. They are a proven danger. I’m against them in residential areas.
September 15, 2020
Please don’t allow commercial helicopters to fly over Kailua. I’m a homeowner near the helicopter crash that happened in Kailua. We need to protect residents. There is no need for commercial helicopters to fly over our town of Kailua. It’s unsafe and it’s noisy. Please keep Kailua, Kailua.
September 15, 2020
Mahalo for the opportunity to share my perspective as a life long resident of Kailua.
I live 5 houses from the crash site on Oneawa , and I don’t ever want any one to ever have to see what I saw or experience what I experienced that day. Our neighborhoods should not be air tour corridors and there needs to be better oversight of this industry. Even if it weren’t a safety issue, the noise from the parade of helicopters makes me feel like our rights as residents are outweighed by the rights of the industry. I also don’t think tourists have any idea how dangerous helicopter touring is in Hawaii. There is no safety rating on tour advertisements. I am sure they assume that there are safety requirements being met. As I have learned since the crash, safety and oversight are often compromised here, and it was not fair to those two women on board that flight that day. I am sure they thought they were in safe hands. Please do whats right for the community and bolster oversight and change designated flight paths to not include residential areas or state parks.
September 15, 2020
My name is tristin, fourth generation Kailua resident and I live 2 homes away from the April helicopter crash that killed 3 passengers on Oneawa. It landed in my neighbors driveway.
I still remember that day like yesterday. I just took Medical Leave due to my pregnancy, and was watching my 3 year old. So I was home from work. There was a loud bang, (helicopter explosion in air) that shook my house. I yelled out “are you ok?” Toward my moms house-she said “yes, it’s not me”…then seconds later a LARGER BANG(helicopter hitting ground) this shook my house and the ground shook. At this point we heard screaming, my neighbor screaming” call 911!!!”call 911!! Get me towels and a blanket!!! Hurry!!
I saw my mom rush out to investigate, and another neighbor( retired Svs) was passing he shouted “Helicopter! 3 people, a man and woman, I don’t know the other it has no head”!
Moments later my husband (who works in Kailua) calls asking if I’m alright he sees ambulance fire police racing toward our street. I told him it was a helicopter and I was shaking & crying.
I still have nightmares about that day, I wake up screaming and crying that it crashed on my house killing US. I cried that day of the crash, sad for those people, but also thinking, if he crashed just a few FEET to the left, me, my 3 year old, my teenager, and my mom would be dead. And my 2 children at school wouldn’t know why I’m not there to pick them up from school. My husband wouldn’t know that we were all dead.
Every time I hear a helicopter over our home or ANYWHERE I get heart palpitations and I rush out or watch it til it leaves.
I would be in support of a ban on helicopters flying over residential neighborhoods, even military but of course no one has a say in that. The other day, during lockdown I set up a pool for my baby’s and a military helicopter circled over my home. It was so low I could see the pilots face, he was waving at us. I stood up and sternly point Maka( toward the sea)!!Over and over again and he flew away. Crazy. I was so scared he’d fall on us. Just having that big metal object over us and we have no where to retreat, scares me now. It has literally changed me.
Thank you for taking a moment to hear my story
September 16, 2020
I support the concerns of persons who are concerned with low flying (albeit legal?) over land…the helicopter tour companies have alternate routes, can fly higher and give a nice tour, and can fly offshore with safety.
The FAA, with the tour operators “help”, writes the rules. Really!?
September 16, 2020
As a resident of Enchanted Lake, I am well aware of the noise impact from helicopter tour operators in our region. I do acknowledge that this impact has greatly diminished with the current visitor restrictions. There is a popluar flight path that crosses Olomana and then heads into Lanikai that is quite disruptive. These flights don’t appear to have any restrictions on heights or times. I can recall hearing these flights before 7:00am and well into the evening.
I would like to request that the Task Force consider establishing restrictions on flight paths that minimize or eliminate noise disruptions to large residential areas and also provide safe zones for aircraft to land that are away from highly populated residential areas.
September 18, 2020
Tour helicoptors are a potential danger to those who ride in them and to the communities underneath. Plus, they are noisy and annoying, disturbing the peace in our neighborhoods. Mahalo.
September 18, 2020
Being in the Navy and loving the helicopter industry, how can we create more pilot programs to keep military and locals employed with this high paying jobs, that don’t make us move to the mainland.
Rep. Cynthia Thielen
September 19, 2020
TESTIMONY TO THE HAWAII AIR NOISE & SAFETY TASK FORCE
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Thursday, September 24, 2020
By Representative Cynthia Thielen
As a Hawai‘i State Representative for District 50 (Kailua, Kaneohe Bay), I speak for thousands of Windward Oahu residents who have been negatively impacted by commercial air tours. After one tour helicopter crashed in the middle of Kailua town, I received hundreds of calls and emails from constituents legitimately worried about the safety of their families and homes. This, added to the incessant buzz of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft flying over residential neighborhoods, needs to be immediately addressed and resolved by this Task Force. Without a doubt, the lack of regulation and lucrative nature of these commercial helicopter tours have created a “Wild West” in the sky.
When Legislative Committee Members heard bills addressing helicopter noise, numerous residents testified about their diminished quality of life. Many said they could not hear television programs or have conversations in their own homes when helicopters fly over, which can occur in some neighborhoods multiple times an hour. Some noted their animals are disturbed, their kids can’t concentrate on their schoolwork, and those wishing to sleep cannot during the day. On the Big Island by Volcano National Park, one man said the helicopter tours start before he has his breakfast and last throughout the day, making his life “miserable.”
What regulation is in place for commercial tour helicopters? Outside of some minimum-altitude-level guidelines, barely anything. With no flight plans, no limits on frequency, and little to no enforcement or accountability for pilots who violate the few rules in place, neighborhoods are inundated with noise, and residents overwhelmingly feel that their privacy is being violated from hovering helicopters. Something must be done, not only for the peace of mind of our residents, but for the safety of our neighborhoods.
Although helicopters fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration once in flight, there are also steps the state and counties can take. The FAA could implement a Special Federal Aviation Regulation or create place-specific rules as it’s done along the east coast of Long Island. Due to the frequency of flights from New York City to the Hamptons that pass over residences on Long Island, Sen. Chuck Schumer in response to constituent complaints, became an advocate for better managing the helicopter traffic. The FAA ultimately passed new rules, providing a specific offshore flight route for the helicopters, and minimum-altitude levels of 2,500 feet over land and 3,000 feet over water (the minimum-flight altitude observed over residences in Hawaii is only 1,500 feet).
SFARs for national parks and the surrounding areas that often see a deluge of commercial-tour helicopters in Hawaii is not only appropriate, but also necessary for compliance with the National Park Air Tour Management Act of 2000, requiring the FAA to create air-tour plans or enter voluntary agreements with commercial-tour companies.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Hawaii Island Coalition Malama Pono have attempted to sue the FAA to comply with this act. Oral arguments were scheduled for the U.S. Court of Appeals in November 2018, but were cancelled. The groups are currently re-filing the petition.
Since the implementation of the National Park Air Tour Management Act was delayed, it has allowed commercial tours to continue unabated. Volcano National Park recorded 15,489 helicopter tour flights in 2016, which averages to 42 flights daily. Considering they generally only fly during the day, it breaks down to three to four flights hourly over the same general areas.
It’s clear that action is needed regarding the lack of rules and regulations surrounding these commercial helicopter tours. The various scopes of government jurisdiction, ranging from federal to state to county, can play a unique role in possibly addressing the helicopter noise problem in the islands.
It isn’t fair to the neighborhoods in areas of natural beauty to concede peace and quiet on a daily basis to accommodate a very noisy, invasive leisure activity. Through cooperation and common-sense rule and regulation passage, tour companies can run their businesses and residents can enjoy quieter skies.
Leah Cunnion Kaplan
September 20, 2020
There are so many helicopters that fly over pearl city – but in the past month there have been rotor wing helicopters that are so loud they vibrate the floors and walls of my house. It’s awful. I have a 1 year old baby who generally likes seeing helicopters but he cowers in fear when those come by.