Anyone that has vacationed in the Hawaiian Islands knows that there are loads of helicopters around. The sightseeing flight operations are extensive and there are a variety of types that are used. The Astar was a big feature of these flights but the EC130 was developed to provide something best suited to these flights and it is now very widespread. There are other types in use too. I used a Robinson R44 for one of my flights for example.
There are the occasional MD500s around too which is what you expect to see if you ever watched the original Magnum PI TV series. The helicopter area at Lihue was a busy place to be with a steady stream of operators moving from the different pads. I wasn’t on vacation to spend time watching helicopters but of course I managed to slip a little time in with them!
I was wandering along the runway at Concrete towards the end of the day during the fly in. A Robinson R44 had been doing pleasure flights throughout the day and was landing well up the field from where I spent a lot of my time. I had photographed it as it came over a couple of times but soon lost interest. However, as I wandered along, I happened to be near his landing spot when he came back from another trip. I was far better placed to get a shot or two so I did. However, he spotted me and, instead of following his normal approach routine, he brought the helicopter to a hover in front of me facing at me as they all looked at me while I looked at them. As long as I kept shooting, he didn’t go anywhere so eventually I just lowered the camera and waved. At that point he turned around and landed.
I love helicopters and getting to see two in close quarters at Salinas recently was the sort of thing to make me smile. An Astar had come up to drop someone off and was heading back out again. Meanwhile, a local Robinson R-44 had been moved out on to the ramp next to it for its pilot to have a local flight. They ended up starting up and departing at almost the same time. What I hadn’t realized was that the departure path for both of them was going to take them right past me.
I had figured that they would start up and then hover taxi to the runway before departing in the runway heading. Instead, the approved profile made use of the taxiway next to where I was. The result was that they both pulled to the hover and then turned in my direction before accelerating right by. That was a lot better than I was expecting. The need to gain speed before climbing to minimize time in the “avoid curve” means that you get a nice low view of a helicopter when it takes off. This is far better than the fixed wing alternative in my view.
If you wanted to get a bit of an aerial view of Half Moon Bay and the Dream Machines show, one option was a helicopter flight. Two Robinson R-44s were running flights all day. The flights were not long and not particularly cheap but that obviously was not a deterrent. The two seemed to be flying almost constantly all day. They barely had time to refuel and swap crews it seemed.
The two 44s were similar in appearance but my usual fascination with helicopters took over and I ended up taking way more pictures of them than was absolutely necessary. I even told Hayman to stop me if I kept shooting them! He obviously wasn’t too thorough on that one as I have a fair few shots. I even got some when we stuck in the traffic leaving as they were coming right over us for a while. When going through the shots, it is sometimes fun to see the passengers watching me watching them!