WHY SHOULD I BOOK A HELICOPTER TOUR INSTEAD OF AN AIRPLANE?
Airplanes are restricted to fly no lower than 1000 to 1500 feet and they have wider standoff distance than helicopters, which can fly as low as 500 feet. Only a helicopter can fly you into Mt. Waialeale Crater, up close to massive waterfalls and into Kauai’s many lush valleys.
WHY DO YOU FLY ASTAR HELICOPTERS?
There are several reasons why we choose to fly the Airbus (formerly Eurocopter) AStar helicopter.
- The AStar is the most widely used and the most popular tour helicopter in the world.
- This aircraft gives a smoother ride than the EC-130 or Eco-Star helicopter, especially in windy weather.
- Our AStars are equipped with custom floor-to-ceiling windows which assure safety, climate control, and excellent viewing from all seats.
- All our AStars are AS-350B2 models equipped with a more powerful 1D1 turbine engine.
- We custom retrofit our new helicopters for a left pilot seat which keeps the pilot position from obstructing views.
- The AStar helicopter does not have a center console between the front and rear seats, while the Bell Jet Ranger and Hughes 500 (doors-off) both have a center console that blocks views for rear passengers.
ARE YOU A FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) PART 135 OR PART 91 OPERATOR? AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Island Helicopters is a certified FAA Part 135 operator. This requires a higher standard of pilot qualifications and much more oversight for safety by the FAA in comparison to Part 91 operators. Companies that are designated as Part 91 operators are limited to a distance of only 25 miles from their home base, which would eliminate touring half of Kauai’s famous Na Pali Coast.
DO YOU OFFER FLIGHTS WITH THE DOORS OFF THE HELICOPTER?
Island Helicopters elects to fly AStar helicopters with the doors on for SAFETY and COMFORT of our passengers of ALL ages.
Safety: When the doors of a helicopter are off, everyday items such as loose-fitting shoes, sunglasses, hats, face-masks, cell phones, etc. all become a hazard if they were to fly out of the aircraft. This is not only unsafe for people below, but also for the operation of the helicopter. It could be catastrophic if an item were to fly out and hit the tail rotor.
Comfort: Our pilots (and our 40+ years of experience) have found that most passengers flying with the doors off get wet, have wind blowing in their faces and are unable to control the temperature of the helicopter cabin. Personal items such as camera equipment and cell phones frequently get damp which can cause damage. Doors-off helicopters, such as the Hughes 500, will have obstructed visibility due to a wide center console blocking the view between passengers and windows. The Robinson aircraft does not have a turbine engine and is inferior during the variable winds on Kauai.
Flying inside the climate-controlled comfort of the AStar is preferred by most customers. Our custom, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors provide guests with exceptional visibility throughout their tour. Unlike doors-off tours, Island Helicopters welcomes people of any age.
CAN WE TALK TO THE PILOT DURING THE FLIGHT?
We have removed the hand-held microphones in our aircraft due to concerns of sharing germs between customers. Each tour includes a unique and live narration by your highly-qualified pilot. If you have any questions, your pilot would be happy to answer them prior to takeoff and after landing.
CAN WE TAKE PICTURES?
Yes, there are many photo opportunities throughout the flight. We do not allow tablets, selfie sticks, drones, or lenses over 4 inches to be used during the tours, due to possible interference with other passengers’ viewing. Please keep the camera lens away from the windows to prevent scratching and also so the vibration doesn’t affect your pictures.
CAN WE GET A PICTURE NEXT TO THE HELICOPTER?
Yes, when you land after your tour, our line-personnel will be happy to snap a picture of you or your group next to the helicopter. If you are on our “Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure”, your pilot can also take pictures of you in front of the waterfall.
CAN WE TIP THE PILOT?
Yes, if you enjoyed the tour given by your pilot, tips are always greatly appreciated. Tipping is entirely up to you and is not expected.
DOES ISLAND HELICOPTERS OFFER A VIDEO RECORDING OF MY ACTUAL FLIGHT?
Island Helicopters does not video record your actual flight because we do not believe it’s safe to do so. When flights are video recorded, the pilot has to manually operate and manage one or multiple cameras. We strongly believe that during a flight, a pilot should be flying the helicopter and observing the skies at all times and not be distracted by operating video equipment. We also have observed that the video quality is poor on most tours that are video recorded. Water drops often cloud the lens, people’s heads are blocking the inside cameras, and when the pilot points out something on the left the camera might be viewing something on the right. However, we do sell a professionally produced DVD flight tour of the island which features stunning cinematography taken in the optimal lighting, professional narration, and views of Kauai’s top sights.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR ON MY HELICOPTER TOUR?
Dress like a ninja. Passengers should wear a dark colored shirt and pants/shorts, if possible. Light colored clothing can reflect off the helicopter windows and may appear in your photos, so black or dark color clothing is preferred. Our helicopter cabin is air-conditioned and you are able to control your own A/C vent to make your seat cooler or warmer as needed. If you tend to get cold, consider bringing a light sweater or jacket. Passengers taking the “Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure” should wear closed-toe shoes.
IS THERE A WEIGHT REQUIREMENT TO FLY ON ISLAND HELICOPTERS’ TOURS?
Yes, there is a weight requirement that may require some customers to purchase an additional seat (a discounted rate for a comfort seat is available on the “Grand Skies Island Tour”). When booking your tour, it is very important that accurate weights are given and that they include bodyweight as well as clothing/shoes and any carry-on items. Every tour is different and our reservation team carefully reviews all bookings to calculate aircraft weight & balance (which is required and regulated by the FAA). A guest service representative will contact you if a comfort seat is deemed necessary during the review of your reservation request. Every passenger is required to be discretely weighed (with their carry-on items) at check-in. Please call us directly for specific details.
IS THERE AN AGE REQUIREMENT FOR YOUR TOURS?
Nope! We welcome guests of all ages. Children 23 months and under on the tour departure date, not occupying a seat, may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult. Although the purchase of a seat is not required for the infant, you will need to let Island Helicopters know at the time of booking your tour what the child’s estimated weight is, as well as their date of birth.
WHEN DO I NEED TO ARRIVE FOR MY TOUR?
We ask all passengers to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to their tour time in order to complete the check-in process. Kauai roads have frequent and on-going construction and unforeseen delays are common when traveling about the island.
DO YOU OFFER ANY ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTS?
YES! When booking directly with Island Helicopters, customers should feel confident that they are receiving the best rate possible. The prices on our tour pages are based on payment by credit card. If customers choose to pay in cash, cashier’s check or money order, they can save an additional 4% off their tour price (cash discount is available to domestic customers only). We encourage our customers to carefully research claims of “best price guarantee” and understand that booking through a third-party website, activity vendor or concierges, will incur inflated pricing to cover their sales plus commissions. When our customers choose to book direct through our website or by calling 808.245.8588, they are rewarded with the lowest rate possible on Kauai’s best helicopter tours. We do ask for a credit card at the time of booking to secure the reservation. The credit card is not charged at that time unless you meet one of the exceptions noted in the “Reservation Policies” section on the Terms and Conditions page.
WHY DOES ISLAND HELICOPTERS ASK WHERE I’M STAYING ON THE ISLAND?
It is important that you complete the form question, “Where will you be staying on Kauai?” for several reasons. We reconfirm all reservations with a courtesy reminder/call. If we are unable to personally speak with you on your cell phone and unable to leave a message, we will leave a message at your hotel. Our team knows Kauai well, and if we are aware of where you are staying, we may be able to advise you of a commute issue ahead of time so that you can adjust your schedule accordingly so you don’t miss your tour.
WHY CAN’T I AUTOMATICALLY BOOK MY TOUR RESERVATION ONLINE?
With over 40 years in business, we have found that we can cater to our guest’s travel needs with much better success if our team personally reviews each booking request. Most companies choose to let an automated system place patrons on a predetermined calendar which can lead to complications in scheduling. At Island Helicopters, every booking is customized based on a number of factors and we know that by treating each booking with individualized attention, our customers end up with the highest level of satisfaction.
WHERE DO YOUR PILOTS LIVE?
All of our pilots are full-time residents on the island of Kauai. Because they live on Kauai, they intimately know the geography, history, and landscape of Kauai. This knowledge is reflected in our pilots’ skilled and culturally accurate narration. Many of the other Kauai air operators rotate pilots and mechanics between their different island operations.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS?
Over 40 years! Bonnie and Curt Lofstedt started Island Helicopters in 1980, and Curt managed another Kauai helicopter company for seven years prior to that. Island Helicopters is one of the only owner/operator/local-resident air tour companies in the State. Read our full story here.
DO YOU LIKE LIVING ON AN ISLAND?
Everyone lives on their own island, from work to the grocery store, days off doing chores and going to soccer games, etc. On our days off we have all of Kauai for playtime. We have the pleasure of meeting people from all around the world. So, to answer the question: YES, we love it here!