Linda from Island Helicopters called me shortly before noon. “Can you make it to Lihui in about an hour?” They’d had a cancellation and there was a seat on a chopper with my name on it if I could get myself there around one.
When I arrived they asked me to get on a scale. They even told me to hold my camera if I was going to take it on the helicopter. “We need exact weights,” she said. A few minutes later they shuttled me over to the heliport just north of the Lihue airport. As I’m sitting there putting on my inflatable vest (“in case of a water landing”), the shuttle van pulls up with the rest of the group on my flight: a couple of young honeymooners from California and a family that includes grandma and a two-year-old toddler. Which sort of surprises all of us, including the guy giving us instructions on how to board the helicopter and what to do in an emergency.
“Did you book the child?” he asks the mom. Oh, sure, says the mom. They knew. The thing is, says the guy, it’s a six-passenger helicopter and now I’ve got seven people. He’ll sit on my lap, says the mom. It’s not a problem.
The helicopter employee scratches his head and says he’s going to have to go talk with the pilot about the situation. A few minutes later he’s back and says, Okay, the kid can go, but he has to wear his own inflatable vest. Which is a problem because the minute the man tries to put the orange vest on the kid, he starts thrashing and crying in his mother’s arms. He wants nothing to do with it.
Meanwhile I’m thinking: Wait. They insist that I stand on the scales holding my camera so they know the exact weight on the helicopter and now we’ve got a kid sitting on his mother’s lap? Does anyone know how much the kid weighs?
Anyway, we load. The honeymooners get the primo seats in the front so they have unimpeded views of everything in front of them. I sit next to grandma in the back. The pilot, whose name is Isaac, makes sure we’re all properly strapped in and that our headsets work and then, bang, we’re off. Floating like a seagull high above Kalapaki Bay, on our way to Jurassic Falls.
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