Frequently Asked Questions
Because of their agility and small turning radius, helicopters can fly you right into the heart of Hawaii’s geological gems, such as the many lush valleys and sprawling canyons, while fixed‐wing aircraft have to circle above. Helicopters allow you a more intimate look at the terrain. Because our pilots can slow down and turn the aircraft around some of the famous highlights, you can take a more leisurely look and are given enhanced photo opportunities. Also, when was the last time you were in a helicopter
There is no short answer. Although Hawai’i enjoys plentiful sunshine year-round, we do experience summer and winter seasons. Precise flying weather conditions are often impossible to predict, especially in winter, because of the interplay of dynamic weather patterns and the island’s unique topography. Due to the combination of high mountainous peaks and shoreline throughout the islands, each hour of the day shows each island, literally, in a different light. Wind speeds and cloud formation also change throughout the day, resulting from variations in temperature. Ultimately, the time of day you book depends on your preference and itinerary, but we recommend choosing a tour date early on in your stay. This allows you more opportunities to find a different tour time with us should the weather not cooperate for the original flight.
No. At Mauna Loa Helicopters, we feel that you should not have to share your flight. Therefore, we fly exclusively private tours for parties of two, three or four. On our most popular tour for two, we purposely leave the third passenger seat vacant. This way you will not have to share the aircraft with any second party. This is your tour.
Yes. The requirement is to pay for a minimum of 2 seats on our standard adventures. You can also private charter the aircraft as well. Please call the phone number listed for the island you are visiting for more details.
Both options allow for optimal viewing, as each window seat has wide windows extending from the top of your head to your waist. The choice to fly with or without doors depends on your priorities and comfort level. In a closed aircraft, you are shielded from wind exposure and you will hear music and narration clearly. It is a very serene way of taking in the scenery through the large windows. If you are game for a more visceral experience or photography is important to you, our doors-off adventure is for you. Floor-to-ceiling openings allow you to look straight down into waterfalls and sea caves, and glare from windows in your photos is no factor. Because the helicopter is open to the elements, you will be exposed to wind and cooler temperatures caused by airspeed and altitude. For your comfort, please follow our recommendations on how to dress appropriately for your doors-off helicopter flight. The airframe does protect you and your camera equipment well during light showers or mist. If some members of your party would like the extra comfort of a door, we can remove some doors and leave others on. However, all seating arrangements are subject to weight and balance calculations. For doors-on and doors-off tours, please abide by our recommendations on how to prepare for your flight so you can make the most of it. Also a reminder that we don’t charge any more either way you choose.
On these magnificent islands, there is much to be discovered by air. Certain of the countless remarkable features have, deservedly, garnered special interest and are most popular for aerial viewing. Weather permitting, our pilots will explore with you all of each islands most famous geological features as outlined in our tour descriptions. Sometimes, wind and weather conditions necessitate a deviation from the usual tour route. In these instances, our pilots will attempt to show off other spectacular scenery not normally included on the tours, as all islands offer more hidden wonder to please the eye than can possibly be covered on a single flight. We guarantee to showcase spectacular scenery and breathtaking views that are not obtainable by car or trail.
Along with ample sunshine, the islands are also blessed with abundant daily rainfall, which nourishes the lushness , and creates the erosive force that continues to shape all the fascinating geology. Most of the island’s waterfalls are sustained only by rainfall, and misty showers often delight passengers with rainbows along the tour. Usually, our typical high cumulus clouds and precipitation do not diminish the quality of your tour, but instead give it dimension and add other exciting facets to your experience. However, if the pilot determines that prevailing visibility, cloud cover or wind speeds do not allow for a good air tour, or if it is not safe to fly, we will of course cancel the flight. Because weather conditions can change dramatically day to day and hour by hour, we often cannot make a determination about your flight prior to your check‐in time.
If you purchase your reservation online, full payment is collected at the time of the booking. If we cancel a flight due to weather, there is naturally no fee for you whatsoever, your payment will be returned and you are not required to rebook your tour. We are happy to reschedule your flight based on availability.
Tours may be canceled or changed up to 24 hours prior to the scheduled flight time without incurring a fee. Tours canceled less than 24 hours before the scheduled time, or passengers who fail to show up, or are 15 minutes late for check in will be billed the full price for the tour.
We do offer a variety of military discounts. 10% discount for military personnel, 50% off third seat for children of military personnel, and free third seat for wounded warriors. Please bring a military ID in order to receive your discount. Because we provide an exclusive private tour, these are the only discounts that we offer. Our tours are value-priced and we maintain a policy of price integrity. However, we waive all airport fees and fuel surcharges.
Total weight per seat is restricted to 275lbs. We do not impose any weight surcharges for individual or combined passenger weights. Per FAA regulations, all passengers plus carry-on items will be weighed at check-in. With three passengers no more than one passenger can be over 200 lbs.
You are most welcome to fly with us through the 7th month of your pregnancy, providing you feel comfortable with the motion of the helicopter in the air, as well as wearing a regular (3-point) seatbelt across your body.
For everyone’s safety, we do not permit lap seating. Each passenger, including your child, must be secured with a regular-sized seatbelt in his or her individual seat. For this reason, our minimum passenger age is 7 years to fly with the doors on or 10 years to fly with the doors off.
On our aircraft, other than the R66 on the Big Island, there are no middle seats, so each passenger can enjoy the scenery to the fullest from his or her guaranteed window seat. Your pilot sits in the front right seat which leaves the front left, and a rear left and right seat for passengers. Generally, the rear right seat is considered ideal for photography since it is closest to the pilot’s view and you are traveling clockwise around the island. However, our pilots are skillful in selecting a flight path that affords passengers on both sides of the aircraft the same amazing views.
In terms of seating arrangements, our first priority is safety, meaning we seat people in the best spot for the weight and balance of the aircraft. Our next consideration is where passengers would like to sit and what seat will be the best for their experience. We will be happy to accommodate your individual preferences, weight and balance permitting. Most couples like to sit together in the back of the helicopter so they can better share the experience, lean over and see out both sides, and point things out to one another. There is emotional value to sitting together, which for most people is higher than any added viewing value obtained from the front left seat. The open cabin design also allows rear passengers viewing ahead through the cockpit window.
Your check-in time is 45 minutes prior to your flight time. Per FAA regulations, we need to determine each passenger’s exact weight including shoes, all clothing, and personal belongings such as camera equipment and purses. It is therefore necessary that you bring to your check-in everything that you would like to wear and have with you on your tour. You do not need to actually wear your warm layers at check-in, but you do need to hold them when stepping onto our scale. On a doors-on flight, we recommend that you wear dark outer layers to minimize reflection in the windows during photography. Because you are not exposed to the elements, whatever clothing you are comfortable with at sea level is adequate for your flight. An open-door experience is exciting and fun and we want you to enjoy your flight without being distracted by wind or chill. A warm outer layer that you can zip up, such as a windproof jacket, is ideal. We strongly advise against wind-susceptible clothing such as dresses and hooded items. In winter, long pants are highly recommended. To keep you and your belongings safe, we cannot permit any loose objects on your doors-off flight. This includes hats, visors, scarves, hair clips, and strapless sandals. Eyeglasses are permissible. Hair that is long enough should be tied tightly with an elastic band. Any equipment must be secured to you via a strap.
Our experienced pilots choose the best flight path given prevailing wind speeds and topography, avoiding areas of known turbulence and making gentle turns and altitude changes. Very few passengers experience any queasiness. However, if you are particularly prone to motion sickness, we do recommend that you prepare with oral motion‐sickness medication so you can enjoy your flight, free from worry.
Yes, you can! Except during critical flight stages, such as take‐off and landing, feel free to ask a question, share impressions or comments, and engage with the others onboard. We provide inter‐communication between all occupants of the aircraft as an added bonus.
Flight safety is our principal concern and we are proud of our impeccable safety record. We have a zero-tolerance maintenance policy, meaning any issue, regardless of its effect on airworthiness of the aircraft, is checked out promptly and thoroughly. With extensive training and flying experience, each of our pilots has acquired expert knowledge on the island’s unique weather and terrain considerations, and this knowledge is a key factor in making sound decisions and navigating the skies safely. For your added safety, we do not practice “hot-loading”. We shut down our aircraft in between all tours to allow for a thorough pre-flight inspection prior to each and every tour, and our passengers.
Tipping is not required but is always appreciated.