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Tom Neilsen

'Door-Off’ Helicopter Tour of Oahu

On a recent trip to Hawaii, Tom Nielsen and his son Marc took a one-hour “doors-off” helicopter tour around the island of Oahu with their 32-year old female pilot. Hovering just 500 feet above the ground and swooping low over the blue Pacific Ocean was a fantastic adventure!

After departing Honolulu International Airport, we flew over the famed Ala Moana Shopping Center and Waikiki Beach. Diamond Head is a familiar iconic photo from Honolulu, but a view from the air of the massive crater is breath taking.

On the east side of the island we swept past the Makapuu Lighthouse, coastal towns and beautiful white sandy beaches ringed with lush vegetation and tall palms.

Rising over 4,000 ft. Mount Ka’ala, we were able to see hundreds of wind turbines. Hawaii is taking advantage of its mighty trade winds to capture and harvest alternative energy. Our next view was the huge Dole Pineapple Plantation with many acres of various stages of pineapple production.

We flew over the western part of Oahu to view its lush vegetation and beautiful beaches before flying low over Pearl Harbor on the same flight path as the Japanese attack planes in 1941. It was emotional to view the harbor, the many war ships and the impressive USS Arizona Memorial.

On the north side of the island we flew past the Polynesian Cultural Center and then on to an up-close view of the impressive Sacred Falls, which drops 1,100 feet. To view the falls we flew through tight air space into the tree covered canyon. We were one of 3 helicopters waiting our turn to make the viewing.

It was then time to end a memorable one-hour “doors-off” helicopter ride that provided me with more than 400 photos, which I edited down to about 100. It was an impressive and outstanding flight as we returned to our base and flew over many 747’s waiting at the HNL terminal.

Our helicopter tour was an unforgettable experience and flight of a lifetime.

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