February 7, 2011

A Hawaiian tale of Prehistoric Proportions

The location manager knew what he wanted the audience to see if the fictional setting for the Costa Rican mega-budget movie he was first appeared on screen. "A remote, super-awesome site," he told Curt Lofstedt, owner of Island Helicopters, which sheds its exploration of Kauai.

"I'll show you super-awesome," Lofstedt said as he turned his chopper in the direction of Hanapepe Valley.

There, a green expanse of tropical greenery unfolded ones, unmarred by roads and buildings. As a 400-foot Manawaiopuna Falls came into view, Lofstedt's car could barely contain his excitement. "That's it!" he shouted. "It's perfect!"

Manawaiopuna made a stunning debut in the 1993 blockbuster "Jurassic Park" and is commonly known as "Jurassic Falls" since then. Most of the Air Tours Kauai's flying, but because it is on private property that was as close as tourists were able to get up to one year ago. That's when the Jurassic Island Helicopters Falls Adventure Landing, where the passengers caught in Hanapepe Valley and take the foot of the waterfall launched.

"Jurassic Park helped to bring back visitors after Hurricane Iniki devastated Kauai in 1992," said Lofstedt, who lived on the island for 37 years and worked with production crews for commercials, movies and TV shows for almost as long. "That movie is apparently just as popular today as when it was released 17 years ago, and many visitors are really interested in seeing the falls up close."

Island Helicopters It took 5 1 / 2 years to obtain authorization for the tour to offer. Public hearings, an environmental impact assessment, water and geological surveys and studies by experts on the flora, fauna, and Hawaiian history and culture were all part of the process.

Lofstedt soon got the green light, the tour sold itself. Limited to six passengers, but showcases attractions, including Nawiliwili Harbor, Waimea Canyon, the Napali Coast, Hanalei Bay, Hanalei Valley, Mount Waialeale and Lumahai Beach and the Makana Mountain (Bali Hai), made famous in the 1958 Hollywood musical " South Pacific ".

Within 15 minutes after launch, the helicopter alights in Hanapepe Valley, allowing passengers to walk through the thick stands of kukui, strawberry guava, coconut, Ohia lehua, mango, mountain apple and more she admired from the air. "Hanapepe is one of the most beautiful valleys of Hawaii," Lofstedt said. "It is a real jungle, and there are waterfalls everywhere you look."

The pilot guides the group along a 150-yard path to Jurassic Falls. Since only one helicopter on the ground at any given moment they have this pristine place all to themselves. Eating, drinking and swimming are not permitted, and all participants need to wear surgical booties over their shoes to foreign species are introduced into the valley.

"Once you have this area you want to leave it the same way you found it visited - basically intact," Lofstedt said. "It is so beautiful and romantic, we have many marriage proposals at the waterfall, and I'm happy to say that all answers are" Yes! "

In his opinion, helicopters are the best aircraft for Scenic Tours, because they can fly as low as 500 meters, float and handle turbulence better than planes. "They do not large wing surface, all the wind catches his movement," he said. "Helicopter pilots can adjust the pitch of the blades of the rotor system to smooth out turbulence."

Fascinated by aviation from the time he was a young boy, Lofstedt received his solo pilot's license at age 16 - before his license. He received training in the army helicopter and flew combat missions during the Vietnam War, for which he received a Silver Star for bravery. When he returned to civilian life, he transported geological survey teams looking for oil reservoirs on the Alaska Pipeline.

Since he founded Island Helicopters in 1980 with his wife, Bonnie, Lofstedt has flown numerous Hollywood celebrities remote sets throughout Hawaii, including Steven Spielberg, Richard Chamberlain, Kevin Costner, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood. He even taught Harrison Ford how to fly a helicopter when the actor was on Kauai for three months in 1997, making "Six Days Seven Nights.

"I hired him in and out where they were filming," Lofstedt said. "He had flown airplanes, but he wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter. So after the recording was done every day, I give him a lesson. He went back home, got his license and bought a helicopter."

Island Helicopters' A-Star helicopters are equipped with air conditioning and floor to ceiling glass doors and windows for optimal viewing comfort. Pilots personally select and "choreograph" music to the landscape and fill it to the passengers' iPods, Bose headsets.

"Going into Hanapepe Valley, each pilot plays the theme song for" Jurassic Park "," Lofstedt said. "People get goosebumps. You see tears in their eyes. The music reinforces this incredible experience."

Rain, cloud patterns and changing light at different hours of the day add to the visual drama of the tour. "Just when I think I seen Kauai at its best," said Lofstedt, "something better comes along."


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