Jack Harter Helicopters: Helping Keep Hawaiian Waters Beautiful
The Hawaiian Islands draw in tourists in increasing numbers every year – and for a good reason. Each of the eight major islands has a unique geological history, which over time, has formed differing landscapes scattered with waterfalls, high mountain peaks and low valleys, volcanos, rainforests, and sandy beaches in a range of colours.
Kauai, known as the Garden Island, is Hawaii’s oldest island at over 5 million years old. Kauai’s highest point, Mt. Wai’ale’ ale, reaches up to 1,565 meters, creating vast amounts of rainfall. Over time, rainfall carved deep canyons into this lush island, forming its distinctive landscape.
Jack Harter was drawn to Kauai’s combination of emerald valleys, jagged sea cliff coastlines, high peaks, and deep canyons nearly 60 years ago. With many of Kauai’s spectacular views only accessible by sea or air, he soon recognized that by helicopter was the best way to experience its rugged beauty.
Kauai From Above
When Jack brought his first helicopter to Kauai in 1962, he became the originator of helicopter tours on the island. Jack has used a variety of helicopters over time, including the Bell 47G, Bell47J, Hiller 4H1100, and the Sikorsky S-53.
Today, Jack Harter Helicopters provides a full range of helicopter services including helicopter tours, charters, external loads, photography flights, and video charters around the island. Guests can fly in a luxurious 6-passenger Airbus AStar or a four-passenger MD500E, flown with the doors off.
With safety and features as core components of their offering, their team has used Spidertracks since 2013. The Jack Harter Helicopters staff and management are all very appreciative of the ability to know where their aircraft are at all times when they are away from the Lihue Airport.
In the beginning, Jack would land on landing strips in Na Pali Coast State Park, home to Kauai’s spectacular jagged sea-cliff coastline. In the mid-1980s, Jack was told by the state that he could no longer have exclusive rights to the land. If he wanted to continue landing there, other helicopter companies would be allowed to as well. Instead of allowing dozens of helicopters to land there daily, Jack chose to forgo landing in Na Pali altogether.
It is this type of respect for the land that continues to shape Jack Harter Helicopters. It has equally led the company to volunteer flight time towards conservation efforts.
The Problem in the Pacific
The Hawaiian Islands lie between an increasingly concerning problem in the Pacific: the Great Pacific Garbage Patches. Here, trash from North America and Asia get caught suspended due to oceanic and atmospheric forces. The same forces create the Convergence Zone, a concentration of marine debris connecting the two garbage patches. The Convergence Zone leaves waste on the coasts of Hawaii, particularly shores facing East.
It is a heartbreaking reality of the current state of our oceans and the consequences of using microplastics, which make up the majority of the debris.
Like the rest of its sister islands, Kauai is not immune to effects from the Pacific garbage patches. Kauai has to deal with its own trash, too. The combination of the world’s waste and their own places a responsibility on the locals to keep their coastlines clean. To do their part, Jack Harter Helicopters joined forces with the Kauai Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation in September 2019.
Donating Flight Time
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting the Earth’s oceans. Every year, the Surfrider Foundation joins other organizations for regularly scheduled beach cleanups. Kauai’s chapter alone collected 15,000 pounds of debris in the first six months of 2018 alone!
The September 2019 beach cleanup was the second collaborative effort between the Surfrider Foundation and Jack Harter. With marine debris collecting primarily on the east coasts, Kauai’s remote eastern shorelines were the focus. Fifty-five super sacks full of debris such as tires, plastics, and other beach trash were collected by volunteers and left piled together at a pickup point awaiting Jack Harter’s MD500 helicopter.
The helicopter carried the super sacks as external loads to a pickup point. From here, the super sacks were loaded on trucks for recycling and disposal.
Preserving a Jewel in the Pacific
Few places in the world feel the brunt of the effects of plastics in our oceans like the Hawaiian Islands. As Jack Harter’s pilots fly guests across Kauai’s stunning Waimea Canyon, “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” or along Na Pali’s rugged sea-cliffs, it is difficult to imagine the islands any other way. It is a reason why Jack Harter continues to donate flight time to preserving the Garden Island.