By JOHN BURNETT Hawaii Tribune-Herald
HONOKAA — A 39-year-old man was transported to North Hawaii Community Hospital in serious condition following a tour helicopter crash at around 7 a.m. today near Kukuihaele, according to the Hawaii Fire Department.
The crash occurred on private land accessible through Waipio on Horseback Ranch, near the 7.5-mile marker of Honokaa-Waipio Road (Highway 240) near the Waipio lookout. The crash site wasn’t visible from the highway and the Tribune-Herald wasn’t allowed to visit the crash site.
The Fire Department said the crash was on open land about 200 yards mauka of the highway.
The department said the crash was a result of engine failure.
No passengers were on board when what the helicopter’s owners, K&S Helicopters, dba Paradise Helicopters, described in a statement as a “hard landing … while arriving for a utility flight” occurred.
The pilot self-extricated and was able to walk away from the aircraft. K&S said he was hospitalized “for further evaluation as a precautionary measure.”
“The care of our pilot is our highest priority right now,” said Calvin Dorn, K&S CEO. Dorn didn’t identify the pilot.
K&S said it “is cooperating with authorities involved” and Hawaii Police Department Capt. Albert Jason Cortez said the Federal Aviation Administration “has been contacted regarding this.”
“We classify this as a public accident,” Cortez said.
Police said the helicopter ended up on its side. Asked about damage to the aircraft, Cortez replied, “There was some damage but not as much as you’d expect considering there was a crash.”
According to the FAA aircraft registry, the helicopter is a McDonnell Douglas 369E manufactured in 1989 with an Allison 250-C20 turboshaft engine. Its airworthiness certificate was issued Aug. 22, 2011, with an expiration date of Aug. 31, 2020.