Six people accounted for following a helicopter hard landing incident south of Pahoa Town in the Puna Forest Reserve late Thursday afternoon (March 5th).
Published by: HIRSC Team - Hawaii Island Section (South Hilo/Kea'au)
The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) responded to a report of an aircraft hard landing that occurred late Thursday morning (March 5th) south of Pahoa Town in the Puna District.
The initial call came in at 11:30 am Thursday morning and HFD crews from the Pahoa, Kea'au, and Paradise Park Fire Stations along with Battalion 1, Chopper 1, Department of Land and Natural Resources Officers (DOCARE) and HPD officers from the Puna Patrol responded to the scene located in the Puna Forest Reserve approximately 4 miles Southwest of Pahoa Town.
Upon the arrival of emergency crews, reports came in from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tower at Hilo International Airport (PHTO) from another pilot reporting a helicopter (described as a Eurocopter EC130 belonging to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters) had made a hard/emergency landing in the Puna Forest Reserve in an open grassy area and it was not immediately known if any reports of injuries or damage to the aircraft.
Once emergency crews arrived in the area, HFD Chopper 1 conducted a short aerial search and located the scene off of Kaohe Homestead Road and reported to be on its side. A Fire Rescue Specialist from Chopper 1 made contact with the passengers of the helicopter (6 people were aboard the aircraft at the time of the incident) and determine all passengers were ambulatory and had self-extricated from the aircraft prior to HFD crews arriving on the scene.
All 6 passengers were then extricated by Chopper 1 to Pahoa Fire Station (staging area), where awaiting HFD Medics conducted a medical evaluation on all passengers and later transported to the Hilo Medical Center with their conditions being all in Good/Fair Condition.
After all 6 passengers were extricated from the scene, HPD and DOCARE officers secured the scene until FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials can arrive on the scene to begin their investigation into the incident.
FAA and Blue Hawaiian Helicopter company officials later determined that a Blue Hawaiian Helicopter that departed from PHTO was conducting a "Circle of Fire" air tour at the time of the incident when it experienced a mechanical problem and the pilot had made an emergency/precautionary landing in a field near Kaohe Homestead Road.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters released a statement regarding the incident that occurred earlier today:
"On March 5, a Blue Hawaiian aircraft was in flight near the Leilani Estates area when the pilot conducted a precautionary landing. The helicopter had launched from the Hilo base on the “Circle of Fire” tour. The five passengers on board and the pilot are safe.
The safety of our passengers and pilot are our always top priority, and the pilot’s decision to safely land the aircraft is always the right decision. Local emergency services were called and we have notified the FAA and NTSB. We are committed to working closely with both the FAA and NTSB."