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Missing Safari Helicopters Found on Kauai

Missing Safari Helicopters Found on Kauai
The Coast Guard established a command post on Kauai as they collaborated with multiple agencies in the ongoing search for a missing tour helicopter carrying 7 people – a pilot and 6 tourists. The Coast Guard said 2 minors are among the passengers aboard the chopper.
A Eurocopter AS350 helicopter owned and operated by Safari Helicopters went missing last night over the island of Kauai in Hawaii. This morning, the helicopter was found in Kokee near Nualolo.

The search for survivors, however, is ongoing. “First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these passengers,” said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami. “Operations continue and we are doing everything we can at this time.”

Safari Helicopters was conducting a tour over the Na Pali Coast and was scheduled to return to Lihue Airport at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

According to preliminary report, the pilot’s last contact was made at about 4:40 p.m. when the pilot indicated they were leaving the Waimea Canyon area. Although the aircraft had an electronic locator, no signals were received after that time.

The Coast Guard’s Dolphin helicopter crew conducted 3 search patterns throughout the night along the northwest portion of Kauai while the HSM-37 Seahawk crew scanned the northwest shoreline area for several hours. Also deployed was the Coast Guard’s HC-130 airplane, MH-65 helicopter, 45-foot Response Boat Medium, and William Hart (WPC 1134) today to resume the search for the chopper.

The U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 MH-60R Seahawk helicopter crew and Civil Air Patrol also assisted in air and ground searches along with the Kauai Fire Department, Kauai Police Department, state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii Air National Guard, and private helicopter companies.

Curt Lofstedt, president of Island Helicopters Kauai, said they have three helicopters assisting in the search. Private helicopters are searching areas outside of Waimea Canyon, Lofstedt said.

Safari Helicopters has been conducting sight-seeing tours on Kauai since 1987. According to its website, the company operates AStar 350 B2-7 helicopters.