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Questions to ask about helicopter tours

San Francisco, Ca
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Questions to ask about helicopter tours

Here are the questions I'm going to ask a company before booking a helicopter tour. Can anyone think of anything else I should be asking?

- Can you guarantee a window seat?

- Where does the 'copter leave from? Do you provide transportation from the Four Seasons Hualalai?

- How long are you in the air?

- What areas do you fly over?

- How low do you fly over lava, waterfalls, craters, etc.?

- I know lava flow is dependent on conditions, but if there is no flowing lava, will we still see lava lakes or other active lava?

- Is "doors off" an option?

- How many passengers are in the 'copter?

- How flexible is the timing or the route?

Now, some questions for the board:

Are there "sunset" departures where you can see the volcanoes both during the day and also after dark (to see the glow from the air)?

How different is the experience if you take a private tour versus a public one?

Burr Ridge, Illinois
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1. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

You have done some research based on your questions. I think you will be asking more questions than the average purchaser. Very nice. My guess is that you already know the answer to most of your questions. You are a good planner.

I always opt for the private tour be it in a Helicopter, private car, walking or other modes when it is possible. I prefer to have the one on one attention and the ability to make the day 'my day' and not be forced to share any wants, desires or window seats (lol) with strangers.

Of course, there are times when a group experience is the only way. I'm not at all anti-social. I enjoy a personal experience whenever possible.

Have a fun time and enjoy the island.

Canada
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2. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

Blue Hawaiian helicopters ....one of the Top operators in the State have a lot of very useful info on their website.

bluehawaiian.com/bigisland/…

The above tour takes off from their "Waikoloa" landing strip which is a straight forward 15 min drive from your accommodation. There is plenty of parking for your rental vehicle on -site.

As you will note they have a couple of different models of aircraft, which have varying seating & visibility. Your seated position in the Helicopter is determined by your body weight and the weight of others on the tour.

Edited: 9:41 am, October 13, 2011
Paradise, California
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3. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

I only have experience with Sunshine Helicopters, but they picked me up from the Kona Village Resort helipad, next door to Four Seasons, and drove me back to KVR. Check with them. I documented the experience on my website, www.davidskvr.net and in particular here: davidskvr.net/Life_in_the_Soft_Lane/Heli_I.h…

David

Edited: 1:06 pm, October 13, 2011
San Francisco, Ca
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74 reviews
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4. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

By the way, does anyone know how far in advance one must arrive in order to get a window seat (aside from any weight and balance issues)?

washington
Destination Expert
for Maui
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5. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

Seats are assigned at time of flight based on the weight of the passengers booked for that flight...they will weigh everyone then make assignments.

Paradise, California
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6. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

I don't know the others, but Sunshine charges a premium for a front seat (and it's worth it, in my opinion). However there are two passengers in the front along with the pilot, so you still might get the middle.

Maui
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for Ka'anapali, Haleakala National Park, Maui
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7. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

Aloha,

The exception to the #5 above is Sunshine Helicopter's Whisper Star"First Class" seating option. Just like first class on a plane, you will be seated up front-and will pay dearly for the privilege. But it's awesome!

Sunshine and Blue are the only two I would fly with. Both long, long time safe local companies. Both fly out of Hilo or the Kohala side. The tours out of Hapuna (the Kohala side) will be longer and cost far more. The tours on the Hilo side will run around half the price and time of the Hapuna ones-but you will have to drive to Hilo early to get a better time. The Whisper Star only flies out of Hapuna.

Both Blue and Sunshine's helis seat six, as do most helicopters. Helis are required to maintain minimum ground clearances by the FAA--usually at least 1500 ft. above ground. There's not any flexibility in timing-these have to run on tight schedules. Routes are somewhat flexible depending on weather and wind conditions.

Edited: 8:28 pm, October 13, 2011
washington
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for Maui
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8. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

Good point sw! I've only flown Blue Hawaiin...just flew where they put my ample butt and LOVED it!

San Francisco, Ca
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9. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

I'm being told that Blue Hawaii will seat based on when you arrive... is that not correct? (Within, apparently, weight and balance considerations.)

washington
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for Maui
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10. Re: Questions to ask about helicopter tours

As stated I found it to make no difference! You show up at the alloted time...they weigh you and you are assigned a seat!