Chief pilot Kalei Gregory (left) and Dylan Mabuni (right) of Paradise Helicopters pose at the company’s new landing spot on Oahu. // © 2014 Chelsee Lowe
Commission: Upon completion of an agency agreement, Paradise Helicopters offers 10 percent commission to travel agents. Based on revenue generated over a period of one year, commission could increase to as much as 20 percent.
I tend to ramble when I’m nervous, so by the time I had buckled my seat belt and adjusted my headset onboard Paradise Helicopters’ six-passenger chopper known as Virginia, it’s likely that my fellow riders were ready for the “thwop, thwop, thwop” of the blades to drown me out.
Then, just like that, the bird lifted off of terra firma, and panic gave way to awe as the chopper glided over verdant, quilted farmland and turquoise waters. Kalei Gregory, our pilot, first circled Turtle Bay Resort — our take-off spot and home to a permanent Paradise Helicopters’ helipad, making it simple and convenient for adventurous guests to book a flight. Later, we hovered in the kelly-green gulch that is home to the famed Sacred Falls. With spectacular sights visible out of every window, it was easy to tuck away my fear into a back corner of my mind, despite the occasional bump of our wingless bird.
The best was yet to come, though, as Kalei guided Virginia up the side of a mountain, then proceeded to set her down onto an audaciously small ridgetop. As we sank toward land, I could sense — no, see — that I was no longer the only anxious guest. From our own corners of the chopper, we exchanged wide-eyed glances, simultaneously questioning how on earth this metal contraption could fit on such a miniscule patch of grass.
Seconds later, none of that mattered. Once the skids touched ground, we were applauding Kalei and disembarking the chopper, grinning. Our feet now planted on what the Paradise team calls “the epic spot,” we sipped champagne and scrambled to take selfies with views of Kualoa Ranch and the sea behind us.
Measuring approximately 50-by-15 feet, this landing place is the newest addition to the company’s flight itineraries. Generally, guests will fly onboard Magnum, a remake of the striped bird from the 1980s television series “Magnum, P.I.” The epic spot will be incorporated into full island tours and shorter tours, with prices ranging between $300 and $600 per person, depending on the flight booked.
Even if you’re a nervous flyer, I’m proof that all will be well. Just grab a handful of ginger candy at check-in, chatter away to anyone who will listen and wait for Oahu’s beauty to help ease your fears.