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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 6, 2006

Tour helicopter lands in riverbed

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor

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KAHULUI, Maui A Blue Hawaiian Helicopters tour flight made a "precautionary landing" in Honokohau Valley yesterday after its pilot reported engine failure, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

None of the six people aboard the Eurocopter EC130 was seriously hurt, although the FAA reported that two passengers suffered minor injuries. Blue Hawaiian President Patti Chevalier said the pilot and passengers were taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center for treatment and all were released.

Chevalier did not have information on the incident, but said Honokohau Valley is on the tour flight itinerary. She said the pilot has been with the company at least five years.

Battalion Chief David Kamalani of the Maui Fire Department said the helicopter came down on a riverbed above a waterfall known as "Jurassic Falls" because it was featured in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster film "Jurassic Park." The un-identified pilot had to maneuver between trees to land in the open area, he said.

"The pilot did a hell of a job putting that helicopter down," Kamalani said.

The Blue Hawaiian helicopter took off from Kahului Airport at 9:33 a.m., the FAA said. The helicopter was reported down in the heavily wooded valley, about three miles up from Honoapi'ilani Highway, on Maui's northern end at about 11:05 a.m. The aircraft suffered substantial damage, the FAA said.

A second Blue Hawaiian helicopter was hovering over the site when the Fire Department's rescue helicopter arrived at 11:38 a.m., Kamalani said. Two firefighters were lowered to the ground to help airlift the passengers and pilot one by one to a cabin about a half-mile away. The Fire Department helicopter then landed at the cabin to transport the six to ambulances waiting on the highway.

Blue Hawaiian has been in business since 1985. It was the first company in Hawai'i to fly the EC130 ECOstar helicopter.

A Blue Hawaiian Aerospatiale AS355 helicopter crashed in 'Iao Valley on Maui on July 21, 2000, killing seven. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the pilot erred by flying into cloudy weather.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.