Yet another helicopter tour crash has occurred in the islands. A Blue Hawaiian Helicopter crashed on a hillside on Molokai killing 5 yesterday. This remains a serious problem in Hawaii, and something needs to be done to ensure safety.
Witnesses said the crash occurred about one-fourth of a mile behind Kilohana Elementary School on the side of a ridge near the 1,000-foot elevation in an area of scrub brush popular with deer hunters.
Among those killed was the pilot, tentatively identified as Nathan Cline, 30, of Kihei, Maui. Also killed were two couples, one from Ontario and the other from Pennsylvania. Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said one of the couples was newly married. It did not appear that any of the victims were in Hawaii for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering on Oahu this week.
What was the cause of the crash? Not yet determined, but the National Weather Service had issued a high-wind advisory for Maui County through much of Thursday.
The helicopter tour consisted of a tour of West Maui and Molokai and it was scheduled to last one hour.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters official Patti Chevalier that the firm was cooperating with the investigation and was still trying to piece together what happened. “We’re all puzzled,” she said.
The helicopter has been tentatively identified as a Eurocopter model EC-130 B4. FAA records show the aircraft is owned by the Nevada Helicopter Leasing Co. of Henderson, Nev. It was certified in April 2010.
The FAA’s Gregor said his agency would investigate the incident with the National Transportation Safety Board, the lead investigative agency. NTSB investigators typically post a preliminary report within a week or two of a crash, although it typically takes the board months to come up with a probable cause.
The earliest FAA records that could be found online show Cline was a registered helicopter flight instructor and pilot in Winnetka, Calif., in July 2004. His most recent registration showed him with a Kihei address and listed him as a pilot and flight instructor with certification good through March 2012. Blue Hawaiian’s website lists Cline as having 4,400 flight hours.
On July 21, 2000, a Blue Hawaiian Helicopters aircraft slammed into the side of a ridge in Iao Valley, Maui, killing all seven aboard.
This is an obvious problem in Hawaii, as it seems as though more and more of these crashes are occurring. Maybe some sort of weather restrictions should be put into affect to prevent these tour companies from taking off in poor weather. We will wait to see what the FAA determines as the cause of the crash.
Other Helicopter Crashes in Hawaii
March 11, 2007: An Inter-Island Helicopters McDonnell Douglas 369FF helicopter crashed in Haena, Kauai, killing a passenger and seriously injuring three others on a sightseeing tour.
March 8, 2007: Four people — including the pilot — were killed and three critically injured when a Heli USA helicopter crashed near the runway at the Princeville Airport on Kauai. The pilot of the A-Star 350BA reported a hydraulic failure.
Sept. 23, 2005: A Heli USA A-Star 350BA crash-landed and sank in the ocean near Haena, Kauai, after the pilot flew into a thunderstorm. Three people died and three were injured on the sightseeing flight.
Sept. 24, 2004: A Bali Hai Helicopter Tours Bell 206B Jet Ranger crashed in mountainous terrain near Kalaheo, Kauai, while on a sightseeing flight. Five died.
July 23, 2003: Five people died when a Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopter operated by Jack Harter Helicopters crashed into Kauai’s Mount Waialeale.
June 15, 2003: A McDonnell Douglas 369D helicopter crashed and burned in a lava field in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, killing four people. The Paradise Tour Helicopters aircraft was on a lava-viewing tour.
June 25, 1998: Six people were killed when an Aerostar 350 BA owned by Ohana Helicopters crashed near the rim of Kauai’s Waialeale Crater.
July 14, 1994: An Aerospatiale AS350D helicopter owned by Papillon Hawaiian Helicopters crashed off the Na Pali Coast on Kauai during a tour. Three of the seven passengers died.
Jan. 25, 1993: A Kainoa Aviation tour helicopter crashed in the ocean near Kamoamoa on Hawaii island, killing four.
Sept. 16, 1992: The pilot and six tourists died in a crash of a Hawaii Helicopters Aerospatiale AS350B at the 3,000-foot elevation of Haleakala, Maui.