“He ali’i ka ‘āina, he kauā ke kanaka.” – The land is chief, man is the servant.
Before I came to Hawaii I decided that this would be THE place to do my first helicopter flight ever. I have seen some youtube movies and knew it, this is it. Big Island was the place where it should happen. Possibly over some volcano, hopefully spotting some lava. We booked a flight with Safari Tours for April the 2nd, in the front 2 seats. We came to the airport in time, well, too early to be honest. Eager to go. The lady of the company was very friendly. “Hello Joanne and Mary”, well, close enough. Together with a family of four we got our safety drill. Lifejacket on, instructions on how to use it, where the extingiusher is and what to do in csse of… and last but not least, she gave us the advise to enjoy ourselves!
Richard was our pilot. He parks the heli, we are pointed to our seats, locked in our safety belts, headphones on, and off we go. Richard talks and talks and talks some more. Very entertaining, like listening to an one man show during a flight. I am not nervous, just excited to get up there. We pass some Indiana Jones and Planet of the Apes film sets, our pilot figurated in them somehow. We see a town called Pahoe. Here people were in distress not even a year ago. They saw a big lava flow coming down from Pu’u O’o crater (part of Kilauea volcano), threatening to take over their town and their houses. After a few months, the lava stopped, taking only one house, part of a cemetary and just stopped next to the recycle station. We fly over the lava, now black, hardened out and cooling down on the inside. Scary to realise people are living so close to this highly active volcanic area. House prices so close tomthe crater seem to be the lowest on the island… I wonder why.
Next Pu’u O’o crater. The little devil herself. Well, wow, just wow. She has been erupting since 1983. An impressive lava flow is what we see, old, black, hardened out… at least that is what she makes us believe. Nothing is more deceiving than a lava crust. We notice smoke at the ends, we fly over and see trees still catching fire. It is that hot. Poor trees, they just burn and they did nothing wrong. Wrong time, wrong place. The methane gasses flame up as well and we realise that nature is beautiful when it shows its horror face (and when we are at a safe distance). Richard explains that new lava is shiny and silvery, and when you focus you can see it move. I look carefully and indeed suddenly I see a more silvery spot in the huge lava field, and coming closer, I see the dark red lava slowly moving. Again, wow, just wow. Then we fly over the crater of Pu’u O’o. Wow cannot describe it anymore, this is awesome (America’s favorite word). A pool of hot lava is bubbling and steaming. I try to make some photo’s, but it is difficult. I have to just remember and keep on dreaming about it. Richard loves flying the heli, so we go over, and over, and over the crater. Many times to give us all the opprortunity to see it. Did I say wow already?
Next we follow the lava flow down to Jack’s place. The last man standing in the lava fields. His house was completely isolated, but he loved it and stayed until the bitter end. Lived for more than 30 years in between all lava flows. They always passed his house and avoided it. Until April 2012. See some more on this webpage. We only see the remains of his water tank, the rest is gone. The black flows are very, very impessive. I cannot imagine how many people have been afraid and lost their houses. So sad and yet so beautiful.
Last bit of the flight is over the beautiful lush green forrests of Big Island. Thousands of waterfalls no one probably has even seen from down below. The pilot even named one after his daughter. We fly a bit, discovering more nice waterfalls, and finally get back to the heliport. Wow, just wow. This is so nice. I have this smile on my face which cannot be washed off. I was not scared, just enjoyed every minute of it!