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Chopper on Tour of Kīlauea Before Hard Landing in Puna

March 5, 2020, 1:35 PM HST
* Updated March 5, 3:19 PM
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Blue Hawaiian Helicopters at the Hilo Airport, Oct. 20, 2017. PC: Damon Tucker

A Blue Hawaiian tour helicopter made a hard landing in Puna near Leilani Estates Thursday afternoon, the company confirmed to Big Island Now in an email.

The chopper launched from Hilo for a “Circle of Fire” tour with six people aboard, including five passengers. Only minor injuries are being reported.

A company spokesperson said the pilot chose to make a cautionary landing during the tour. Hawai‘i Fire Battalion Chief William Bergin said the pilot reported a light coming on during the flight, indicating an issue with the tail rotor.

Capt. John Briski, of the Hawai‘i Police Department, said officers are trying to get to the scene, but that the helicopter landed in an inaccessible area.

HPD Sgt. Jason Grouns said first responders are still trying to find the exact location of the helicopter.


“It may take time before anyone gets out there,” Grouns said.



Blue Hawaiian released the following statement from President Quentin Koch in regards to the incident:

“On March 5, a Blue Hawaiian aircraft was in flight near the Leilani Estates area when the pilot conducted a precautionary landing. The helicopter had launched from the Hilo base on the “Circle of Fire” tour. The five passengers on board and the pilot are safe.

The safety of our passengers and pilot are always our top priority, and the pilot’s decision to safely land the aircraft is always the right decision. Local emergency services were called and we have notified the FAA and NTSB. We are committed to working closely with both the FAA and NTSB.”

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