Growing Air Tours Crowd Island Skies & Upset Residents
Coped from article by Rob Perez The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Friday, January 3, 2020, 12:05 a.m. View link below for full article.
HONOLULU — With sightseers hoping to get a bird’s-eye view of flowing lava, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in 2018 was the most popular site in the country for commercial air tours of national parks. More than 8,300 flyovers of the Big Island attraction were reported that year, topping the National Parks of New York Harbor, the second most popular site, according to federal data.
And even though lava from Kilauea Volcano has since stopped flowing, the helicopter trips over HVNP continue on a daily basis, weather permitting.
Mike Linnolt, who lives in Volcano just outside the park, is frustrated by all the air traffic. He said the flights typically number dozens each day, appearing overheard as early as 7:15 a.m. and continuing into the late afternoon. The aircraft get close enough that he can sometimes see the faces of the passengers.
“It comes in waves,” he lamented, “one after another.”
The helicopter noise disrupts conversations on the ground and disturbs what otherwise would be a tranquil mountain environment. Some aircraft are so close as they whiz by that the windows on Linnolt’s home shake.
“It’s pretty disruptive,” said the Hawaii Pacific University adjunct professor of natural sciences. “This used to be a very quiet place.”
Linnolt is among a growing number of people calling for tougher restrictions on Hawaii’s tour helicopter and small aircraft industry, particularly as the volume of traffic has increased in recent years over residential communities, national parks and other areas.
The flights not only cause noise disruptions but present potential dangers to those on the ground, Linnolt and others say.
The calls for tougher oversight have intensified in the wake of three fatal air crashes in Hawaii that killed 21 people in the past eight months. The most recent tragedy claimed the lives of six visitors and a pilot when their sightseeing helicopter crashed Dec. 26 on Kauai.
On April 29, three people died when their tour helicopter plummeted to the ground in a Kailua neighborhood, barely missing homes. No one on the ground was hurt.
On June 21, 11 people perished when their skydiving plane crashed on takeoff on the North Shore.
In the wake of the crashes, the City Council and more than half of the Oahu neighborhood boards have passed resolutions expressing alarm about the increasing air traffic over residential communities. The resolutions urge the Federal Aviation Administration to adopt stricter regulations.
“It’s a public safety issue, plain and simple,” said Richard Figliuzzi, chairman of the Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board, one of the panels calling for action.
READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE: https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2020/01/03/hawaii-news/growing-air-tours-crowd-isle-skies/