HILO, Hawaii – Hawaii Island residents, especially those living in Puna subdivisions who are fed up with the constant noise from low flying tour helicopters visiting the volcano, had a chance to take their complaints directly to the feds on Thursday.
A Hilo Airport conference room was filled to capacity for the second of two “Hawaii Helicopter Noise Meetings” set up as listening sessions by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS). The first meeting was held the day before on Oahu.
The FAA and the NPS are working together to address noise associated with air tour operations over national parks, including Haleakala National Park and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
“Recently, concerns have been raised about noise from helicopter operations in Hawai’i outside of park boundaries, particularly on the Big Island,” stated a meeting notice. “FAA and NPS are visiting Hawai’i to better identify specific concerns with helicopter operations within and outside of national parks.”
The meetings were an informal opportunity to share information and perspectives on helicopter operations, including safety, economic and noise impacts. “Please note that these are not public hearings and are not associated with previous planning exercises for air tour management plans at national parks,” the federal officials stated.
Participants were invited to share their concerns and opinions.
Daryl Soares and Storm Steiger were front and center, ready to share the views of HICoP, or Hawaii Island Coalition Malama Pono. The organization has been working with state representatives, helicopter tour operators, and the FAA “to strike a balance between the demand for tourism and those that live on the Big Island.” HICoP was instrumental in getting government at the local, state and federal level to take notice.
HICoP also took the chance to further advocate for their propsed solution: an offshore helicopter route similar to the one that was implemented by the FAA on Long Island, NY.
The Puna residents were not alone. Many living in Piihonua, near the scenic waterfalls of the Wailuku River, also suffer constant tour helicopter flyovers.
NOTE: Big Island Video News will be uploading the extended video to this page.