Helicopter Crashed On Secluded Kauai Beach At Na Pali Coast

Details about the helicopter crash at Kauai’s Honopu Beach on Tuesday afternoon, February 27, are still coming in. First responders included Hanalei Fire Station and Rescue 3 aboard Air 1, who were on the scene just before 2:00 p.m.

According to the Kauai Fire Department report, the helicopter was owned by Jack Harter, a tour provider in business for sixty years. The helicopter was reported to be carrying one pilot and four passengers when it crashed at Honopu Beach, with one of the four passengers suffering a back injury. The three other passengers and the pilot did not report any injuries. They were subsequently picked up by another Jack Harter helicopter.

Helicopter Crashes Near North Shore Kauai Cliffs

Secluded Honopu Beach – One of the 50 Best Beaches in the World

Ranked in the top 50 beaches worldwide, this is one you may not have known of until now. Honopu is very secluded and not easy to reach on the Na Pali Coast. It’s been a favorite of Hollywood when they need something exotic and remote for their movies.

Located one valley past Kalalau, watercraft, and helicopters are not allowed to land here. You have two options. Make the 400-yard swim from Kalalau Beach, or see if you can swim to shore from a boat cruise if your captain allows it.

Jack Harter flies two types of helicopters on Kauai, AStar and MD500E.

Both are popular helicopters used for travel, among other things. And both have good safety records. The MD500E is a smaller, lighter craft that can be flown without doors, compared with the larger, more capaciously designed AStar. The MD500E is the craft that is believed to have crashed there.

Jack Harter Helicopters is well-known here on Kauai and was established in 1962. It was a pioneer in helicopter tours on the Garden Island. The company is well-known for its “open-door” helicopter tours, which give passengers an arguably more exhilarating, unobstructed view of Kauai’s lush scenery, including pristine beaches like the one on which today’s chopper crashed.

Honopu Beach, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Ben Ono

Recent Hawaii helicopter crashes.

Before this, there hadn’t been a helicopter tour crash in Hawaii since June 2022. That incident, like today’s, was one in which everyone survived. Five passengers and the pilot suffered serious injuries when their Paradise Helicopters tour crashed on the Big Island near Kau. That was on a Bell 407.

A previous 2019 Kauai helicopter crash killed seven.

The National Transportation Safety Board found that the 2019 Hawaii helicopter tour crash on Kauai resulted from the FAA’s failure to implement appropriate safety recommendations. That occurred at Kokee State Park in Waimea Canyon.

NTSB said low visibility and bad weather were additional factors leading to the incident. In addition, the pilot did not maintain the required three-mile visibility requirement. We can’t speak to the cause of helicopter crashes. But we can say that when flying on these, in fast-changing weather, we’ve been shocked at the speed with which visibility disappears.

NTSB said of the last Kauai crash, “The pilot’s decision to proceed north of Waimea Canyon when others diverted, and his continuation of flight into deteriorating conditions until a crash occurred suggest the possibility that he was overconfident in his ability to fly safely through an area of poor visibility. This tragedy should never have occurred. It was 100% preventable.”

60+ Hawaii helicopter tour accidents in the past four decades.

There have been over sixty deaths in those incidents. It is believed that up to 1/3 of Hawaii helicopter crashes are weather-related.

With today’s news, are you still inclined to go on a helicopter tour?

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14 thoughts on “Helicopter Crashed On Secluded Kauai Beach At Na Pali Coast”

  1. Unfortunately, there have been previous helicopter mishaps at Honopu. The first one took place in the early 1980s. I saw a picture of the pilot, Ross, who is no longer with us, with his Hughes 500D lying on its side further up the beach.

  2. Governor Green, his administration and vocal locals have made it clear about how they feel towards tourism. STRs were okay until they weren’t. During Covid Green was a big advocate to bring back tourism but now he seems to have a change of heart. Now publicly taking to profanity to show his distain to outsiders, very unbecoming for a politician. West Coast visitors seem to be singled out in many anti-tourism articles.

    I came here to thank my west coast friends and commenters here for all the great suggestions to more welcoming and reasonably priced destinations. You have opened my eyes

  3. Sadly, this was not the first helicopter incident at Honopu. The previous one happened in the early 80’s. The pilot, Ross, who has since passed away, showed me a photo of his Hughes 500D also on its side but farther up the beach.

  4. Do you want to hear the honest, unvarnished “truth” about many (most?) sightseeing, tour, and many MedEvac helicopter operations – and their management, pilots, training, and maintenance? This is coming from a former Director of Operations at a large, well funded helicopter operation decades ago in Texas when I was furloughed between airline jobs …

    These “tour operators” are IMO (1st hand experience) some of the most low-quality, borderline unsafe operations that the FAA will license and allow to fly for commercial purposes – until something happens and then we have the usual backpedaling and excuses by all involved.

    You fly with them at your own risk. Personally? Not a chance …

  5. The article mentions two types of helicoptor in the same sentence then follows with the statement: “That is the craft that is believed to have crashed today.” Please be more specific. Your statement could be taken to mean either the MD500E or the AStar.

  6. The scariest aircraft ride in my life was aboard a scenic chopper along the Napili Coast, Kauai. Wickedly strong updrafts as we crested a canyon cliff tilted the copter on its side and the girl next to me gripped my arm in terror never to let go. Our headphones flew off in every direction as the pilot somehow righted the ship. We bounced down the ravine to the Napili shore only to get hammered with more gusts so intense no one cared about the view anymore. The pilot shouted out “We are heading back!” We landed safely and I spent an hour composing myself at the FBO. I thanked the pilot for a job well done and went back to the hotel. Haven’t flown in a chopper since.

  7. I’ve been on 3 helicopter tours around Kauai. On the first trip the weather over Princeville was so bad our pilot diverted us over the Alikai Swamp and back to Lihue along the south shore. We got to see a couple of things not on the regular tour. The other 2 times were with family members, their first trips, and went as planned and were great. Yes, I would do it again. I also spent the big money and flew on Niihau Helicopter to the Forbidden Island.

  8. It appears that the eco-terrorists have taken over from anybody that has any brains in Hawaii. Tourism restrictions will continue until the nuts will destroy the real-estate market by restricting short-term rentals, destroy the restaurant business by restricting over-all visiting and destroy the activity market by restricting all the fun activities in the islands.
    The ones (hotels/condos, restaurants, activities) that remain will increase prices significantly. Getting less for more money will be a Hawaii vacation. We are not returning; it’s cheaper, quicker and more appreciated in the Caribbean.

    1. Ive always hesitated about the Caribbean because it is so much farther away from California. And, some worries about safety. Where have you found it to be safe?

  9. Yes, I would take another helicopter flight however I am very stringent on weather conditions (time of year too) and the ratings the pilot has. VFR is inherently more dangerous. I think it is important that potential passengers realize that flying in Helicopters at low level in a tropical climate with tropical weather patterns is dangerous. That said many activities such as driving on highways are dangerous. What is important is the people realize this and then make a rational decision. If there is changeable weather forecast, approaching fronts or any possibility of visibility restrictions I would pass on that day.

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