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Paradise Helicopters

Paradise Helicopters is a fabulous helicopter tour company that operates tours on both the Big Island of Hawaii and on the island of Oahu. Something that differentiates Paradise Helicopters from most other helicopter companies is the fact that on many of their flights they fly with 'doors off'. If you think this might be a thrill, "you've got that totally right"! Understand that you are fully strapped in and are every bit as secure as you would be in an enclosed aircraft, it just doesn't seem that way! Once you get used to it however it is amazing to not only see the island below by looking straight down but you sort of feel the island as well with air rushing past and the scent of salt water or forest in the air. ...... The Big Island of Hawaii is truly one of the most diverse in the island chain. Paradise Helicopters, with tours departing from the Kona International Airport or Hilo International Airport, allow you to choose your air adventure. To truly experience the awesome power of the Kilauea Volcano and savor the lush tropical rainforests and waterfalls of the Wailuku River you need to see it from above. Some of these areas are remote and restricted, so seeing them by land is not possible. Paradise Helicopters has a fleet of six passenger Bell 407 helicopters and four passenger Hughes 500's. The Bell 407 helicopters are spacious and have executive style seating and oversized window for great pictures. The Hughes 500 are often flown with the doors off and all seats are next to a window. Paradise has several air tours available and will make sure your trip is truly memorable. ...... Most aircraft on Oahu depart from Honolulu and surrounding areas but Paradise Helicopter leaves from the North Shore in an area called Turtle Bay. If you're staying anywhere near that area this may be the company you want to fly with. Also, since at the top of many people's list of sites to see on Oahu is the North Shore and since Paradise Helicopters offers a twenty minute flight of this area, it might make sense for you to drive out to catch the flight at Turtle Bay and just do the twenty-minute flight from there rather than flying the whole island and spending the cost of a full hours flight.


Tom Barefoot: Good morning. This is Tom Barefoot, from Tom Barefoot's Tours. Read Full Transcript

Video Transcript

Tom Barefoot: Good morning. This is Tom Barefoot, from Tom Barefoot's Tours. We are doing a segment of Tom Barefoot Tours Live. In these segments, we highlight various vendors that we have throughout the state. Today, we are going to be talking to Cal Dorn, who is the CEO of Paradise Helicopters. First of all, Cal, are you there? Can you hear me? Can you see me?nCal Dorn: I'm here, Tom, and I got you.nTom Barefoot: Okay. Excellent. I know that Cal, today, he does operations. He has tours that he does on the Big Island, and also on the island of Oahu, but today, he is in some bizarre place. It's called [inaudible 00:00:54]. Is that right?nCal Dorn: Yeah. That's right. It's a cell site up on the northwest side of Mauna Kea, sitting at about 7,700 feet.nTom Barefoot: Okay. You're actually doing some work. You're installing a cell tower or something like that, correct?nCal Dorn: Yes, a LTE site for a cell company.nTom Barefoot: Okay. You do a lot more than just the tours and such. Obviously, we caught you on a day when you're doing this. Just to kind of set the table on what you've got going is that you've been doing this I think since 1977. Is that right?nCal Dorn: I've been flying since 1979. Then I've been on the islands here since 1997.nTom Barefoot: Oh, '97. 1997. Now, that's 20 years you've been in operation. You have helicopter flights that you do, both on the island of Oahu and on the Big Island. You have two different aircraft that you use. You use each one of these aircraft on both islands. You have the Hughes 500, and you have what's called the Bell 407. One of the main things I wanted to do today, honestly, before we went into anything else, and you've got a lot of tours, and lots of neat stuff to talk about, but I wanted to get some clarity on the helicopters themselves. Particularly, the Bell 407, because I don't think, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anybody else in the state uses that aircraft. It's a little bit different. If you could explain it, and I know you've got the capability, you can walk outside, maybe you could show it to us, but if you could explain this helicopter and what makes it different?nCal Dorn: The Bell 407 is different. It's made by Bell, actually made in Mirabel, Canada. It's a six-passenger, seven-place helicopter with a Rolls Royce engine. It has a good power-to-weight ratio. We can get all the way around the island on a tank of gas and full passengers. It also is very stable. We do all sorts of long-line work, external load work. It's a very smooth flying, very level-flying helicopter, and it's got some nice, big windows that I can show you in a little bit, I hope. I'm actually sitting in the pilot seat, so right next to me, there is the copilot's seat. Then In the aft cabin, I think we've got a little bit of the aft cabin. I don't know how well you can see that, but there's five seats in back. You sit in limousine style, so you can sit right across from your friend or your partner there, and then have a big window. If you want me to, I'll walk around the outside and hop in the back. Do you want me to that?nTom Barefoot: Absolutely. Let's get a look at that, see how people are ... Because you've got one person that's sitting with you in the copilot's seat, and then five in the limousine seating in the back, which you're going to show us.nCal Dorn: Yes.nTom Barefoot: Okay.nCal Dorn: Hopefully, I won't cover up anything. I'm going to walk outside here. We've got Mauna Kea in the background. Let's see if we can see that.nTom Barefoot: Okay. You've got your finger of the lens though. Hold on. You've got to move the ... There we go. Now, perfect. Okay. Oh, we got Mauna Kea in the background. Wow, so cool.nCal Dorn: [inaudible 00:04:30], right? Actually, if we look right over that way, if you can still hear me there, Hilo Bay should be somewhere around there.nTom Barefoot: Okay. Yep.nCal Dorn: [inaudible 00:04:42] ... Come around, probably the cell site behind me.nTom Barefoot: Yes.nCal Dorn: Yep. Okay. Now, I'll ... We left the interior kind of a mess, because the guys just hopped out and started working, but I just opened up the sliding door. A little hard to see, for me. It's kind of small. There's the interior.nTom Barefoot: Right.nCal Dorn: Windows, there. Here's the seating. Let's see. Okay. I've got the three seats right here. My favorite seat actually is this one. That's actually facing aft, but it's got its own window right next to me.nTom Barefoot: Right.nCal Dorn: If you're in ... Have my own window. The other seat right next to me, we've got a little console. Here is the seat right there. Of course, right across from me are the three seats there.nTom Barefoot: Right. It looks as though you've got every seat is a window seat with the exception of the one seat in the middle facing forward in the back, correct?nCal Dorn: That's correct.nTom Barefoot: Okay. Is there any advantage for the aft seating?nCal Dorn: The aft seating is an advantage in that you've got your own seat, you have your own window, and you also, as things go by you, your eyes don't focus on things going past you. When you're driving in a car or in helicopters, you go towards things, your eyes constantly refocus on what's coming up, so it's actually more tiring. You sit aft, you can actually kind of relax more, and it's just a nice panorama as you go by. Our pilots all are pretty good at not trying to point out things straight ahead, but you're always looking out the side anyway whenever you ... I've got texts popping up on my thing there, so I've got to bring my finger in. Sorry.nTom Barefoot: Okay. It's okay.nCal Dorn: As things go by you, you get a nice, easy, gentle just open panorama. Your eyes aren't working real hard. Some people get airsick sitting in a font seat. Some people get sick sitting in a back seat. Some people sitting aft. We had one of our managers that the only place she could ride was sitting aft, in this seat right here, so she was able to last, I think she made it an hour. Prior to that, it was five, ten minutes. She was very susceptible. Still loved to fly, though.nTom Barefoot: Yeah. Well, it looks like there's really, there's window space all the way around. No matter where you sit, you're going to be seeing whatever there is to see, yeah?nCal Dorn: Yes. Yeah. In fact, I'll sit in the middle seat. Here I am in the middle seat. This one, we don't put people too tall. I'm 5'7", so I don't have a whole lot of headroom. We make sure we don't put people too tall in here. If you just ... All I've got to do is look one side, and I've got a window, and the other side, I've got an open door, obviously, right now, since I opened that door up.nTom Barefoot: Right. Okay.nCal Dorn: In fact, I can close that. That's one of the beauties of this one. This particular aircraft has got a sliding door. I just slid that thing shut. You can see, there's a window. You've got a [inaudible 00:08:08] here, tilting out, you can really see really well from the middle seat. Now, if you are prone to sickness, another advantage of being on the middle seat is you're right on the center line, so you don't quite get the roll when the aircraft turns as much. You kind of ride in the center. Some people like that, too.nTom Barefoot: Okay. Now, Cal, you've got a second aircraft, which is the Hughes 500. Unfortunately, it's not there, up there in the mountain with you. You're only one pilot. You can only fly one thing at a time. Could you explain that to us? I know that one can be with doors off. It takes only four people. I know that's a real exciting flight, but what can you tell us about the Hughes 500?nCal Dorn: Well, the MD 500 was first used military. It's the 500. Models have been used throughout, now they're currently used by the taskforce guys, the Little Bird, famous from the Mogadishu, Black Hawk Down-kind of movie, and also, Magnum PI is probably the most famous helicopter ever, which we have an exact replica of that up at Turtle Bay Resort up on Oahu. That's two seats in back, two seats up in front. One is between the pilot and the right-front passenger. It's that classic little bubble helicopter, very small, and maneuverable, a very fun ride with the doors off. We get a lot of people say, "I was really afraid to go with the doors off, but that was beyond belief. I'll be back."nTom Barefoot: Cal, one thing. You've got your thumb in there again.nCal Dorn: Oh.nTom Barefoot: Or, one of your ... There you go. It's getting better. There it is. It's gone. Yeah. That's the one that everybody is so familiar with, the Magnum PI one. The fact that you've got the doors off, and I know that it's one of those things, when we talk to people about that, it's either they're 100% in, or, "There's no way I would even consider it, really." As far as the safety aspect of it, you're strapped in there, yeah? Either way, you're just full-on ... It's just plexiglass that's between you and the outside anyway.nCal Dorn: Right. Right. Yeah, the door is really ... It makes you feel secure, but it's very thin plexiglass that doesn't really do a whole lot.nTom Barefoot: Right.nCal Dorn: Now, we do sanitize people, make sure they don't have no scarves, no hats, nothing that could come out of the aircraft. Just make sure everybody is buckled in good. We modify the seat belts, also, to make it harder to unlatch.nTom Barefoot: Okay. Is there any kind of special clothing? Because you must be up in some areas where it gets cooler, yeah, or windier, I guess?nCal Dorn: It is quite windy. Your hair will get tied in knots if you have long hair and don't use a band. I think we've got those on the office. We also have some jackets in the office if people forget their jackets, because it does. You'll get up to 4,000, 5,000 feet, and it gets quite cool before you descend back down to the volcano.nTom Barefoot: Yeah. Okay. All right. Well, we've got a sense of both helicopters that you use. I know that you use each helicopter on both the islands, on both Oahu and on the Big Island. Let's take the islands one at a time, and let's see what the tours are that you offer. Let's go to Oahu first. You've got one spot on the North Shore, and then you've got it over in Ko Olina. What are the different tours that you offer? If you could just encapsulate without going into all the details, because you have so much, but just give people a little bit of an idea of what you could offer on the island of Oahu? n Are you with me, Cal? I think we may have lost Cal there. Well, we got a good description of the helicopter, both helicopters. I think we'll try to re-up, and see if we can get him to do a little bit of a discussion about the tours. I'm sorry this happened at this point. If we don't get him back, that was Cal Dorn from Paradise Helicopters, the CEO over there. He has been in operation for 20 years. One of the major helicopter companies that we have here on the islands. They do major flights on Oahu, as well as the Big Island. They're just one of the prominent companies that we have. I think we're going to call an end right here. I hope we can get him back. If not, thank you very much for the interview, Cal.

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