The Hawaiian Helicopter Tour Industry is Big Business. Each year, more than 1 million people take an aerial tour of Hawaii. That equates to one out of every 10 visitors to the islands. Most of the tours are in helicopters. The business generates more than $200 million annually, and supports countless jobs.
A helicopter is a great way to take in the islands’ natural beauty. And that is what the tour companies sell. "Fly into the heart and heat of an active volcano" advertised one operator. "Fly close enough to feel the waterfall’s cooling mist" offered another.
But the Helicopter Safety Record is Terrible. Flying too close to the terrain features, tangling with the islands’ unpredictable "micro-weather," and substandard maintenance practices have resulted in a long list of fatal accidents. As a result, year after year, Hawaii’s aviation safety record stacks up