September 24, 2020
In May 2018, Kilauea moved down rift to Puna and destroyed hundreds of homes and thousands of lives. Subdivisions were buried in 30 feet of lava and beloved ocean recreational parks were obliterated.
While we were suffering through the most massive discharge of lava in modern history, all the helicopter tour industry could do was celebrate its good fortune. Fissure #8 was a fast 15 minute flight from Hilo and an hour from Kona. This allowed them to dedicate their fleets to rapid turnarounds and hundreds of flights per day over stricken Lower Puna. Instead of tours to Hawaii Volcano National Parks and flights over Pu’u O’o and Halema’uma’u, they sent all their tours over Fissure #8. Helicopters made the complete flight in just under an hour and were able to send each copter in the fleet over Fissure #8 six to eight times per day. Because their operations are so opaque, residents were unable to face them with actual figures. We estimated on a good day for tourists, the industry used our homes and skies up to 300 times per day.
Imagine your home under a flightpath for 300 helicopters a day. They ran from sunup to sundown. We made hundreds of calls to their noise hotline and had meetings, but were brushed off continuously.
This testimony is to support some regulation and some accountability. If left to their own governance, they will do anything they please to any neighborhood they choose and will not negotiate with the affected communities.It will require law to make them responsible to the homes and neighborhoods they abuse.
I was told that the skies are their highways and they have every right to use them however they want. This was from Paradise. They also told me they would follow the lava and use it as long and as often as demand endured. This is unacceptable. Legislators need to help their constituents. If we had elected to move next door to an airport, we would have no grounds for complaint. We do not live next to airports for a reason–they destroy quality of life.
In fairness I will point out Blue Hawaiian acceded to request that they stop flights over Fissure #8. We monitored their flight paths for months and once they stopped overflights they never returned.
I realize one person’s gain is another neighborhood’s loss and it will be difficult to craft regulations that please and help everyone. That’s why it’s time to get serious about talking to your electorate and stop having meetings that never lead to reform.