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John Carse

If community engagement by the Hawaii Air Tour & Safety Task Force was more robust, these would be the questions I’d like answered:
Is it legal for State and Federal administrators to participate in an unregistered Political Action Committee’s lobbying efforts?
Whatever happened to the FAA’s new Hawaii Air Tour Operators Manual that was undergoing revisions? Will the new plan change the regulations enough to require an Environmental Impact Statement? When do we get to see this document that has been under in-house review seemingly forever?
The recently shut down Hawaii Helicopter Association’s complaint website stated that details of nuisance events are “logged into our noise complaint management system database to be reviewed, analyzed, mapped, and reported to HHA operators and pilots. This data will also be used to work collaboratively with communities throughout the State of Hawaii to perpetuate the enjoyment of its residents.” What did the mapping of this data reveal?
Are the over 52,000 yearly air tours currently allowed by Interim Operating Agreements with Hawai`i Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks reasonable considering the Hawaii State Tourism Authority’s new push for lower impact tourism?
Last Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. a Paradise/Tropical Bell 407 flew over the homes of Kaimu at under 1000 feet heading away from the airport and into a bank of rainstorms predicted by the National Weather Service’s Aviation Forecast and easily visible on any doppler map. His ADS-
B Out transmitter was turned off. How can air tour operators possibly claim to be concerned with safety when they allow these blatant violations to continue?
Would task force members please make the time to answer these questions?
Sincerely, John Carse

Debra Laeha

My family has lived in Maunawili for over 20 years. Our once peaceful valley is now inundated by commercial tour helicopters that crisscross our home all day, every day. Prior to Covid, there was a tour helicopter overhead every 4-5 minutes. With the resurgence of tourism, these numbers have once again become unbearable.

Tour helicopters fly over our community even on rainy, cloudy days, despite their lack of the equipment needed to navigate safely under these conditions. This lack of equipment is evidenced by the tragic tour helicopter crash that occurred under overcast conditions in Kailua Town in 2019 when the pilot, who was operating under only Visual Flight Rules, became disoriented by cloud cover. This is a huge safety concern for communities on the Windward side of the island where weather patterns are often unpredictable (which tour operators have openly stated).

Covid has opened our eyes to the blight the tour industry has been on our island, in our skies (from tour helicopters and small fixed-wing tour aircraft), and the harm it has had on communities throughout Oahu and across all islands. This is our opportunity to make a change. Other communities have been able to reign in the tour helicopter industry; we need to fight for the same. We need to do something now so that the health and welfare of our communities are once again valued over the tourist buck.

Ina van Hest


I would like to comment on the issue of increasing commercial helicopter tours we are subjected to on a daily basis. We have lived peacefully in our home of 25 years, at the base of the Ko’olau Mountain Range. Now, it is helicopter tours daily, all day long, sometimes coming in a row like LAX as they circle and hover over our residential developments, we can neither ignore nor block out the incessant noise intrusions. Occasionally two are circling each other like a Star Wars game as they go in and out of the craggy vertical faces of the Ko’olaus. It rivals helicopter noise during the Vietnam War! Since when did we become what feels like a helicopter freeway over our homes? We have installed double-paned windows with slight improvement, but the impact on our health remains significant. Gardening and enjoyment of our private yards without anxiety and fear are in the past. Are we waiting for another crash as happened in Kailua some years ago? It is a matter of WHEN not IF a crash will occur over a residential neighborhood such as mine. This has become a public health issue……please address it.

I applaud you for all your efforts, and look forward to relief.

Thank you,
Ina van Hest. M.D.