None seriously injured in emergency landing
WAILUKU » A tour helicopter made an emergency landing yesterday morning in the rough terrain of Honokohau Valley in North Maui.
None of the six people aboard Blue Hawaiian Helicopters' EC130 American Eurocopter, including the pilot, were seriously injured, but all were taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center for a checkup, said Blue Hawaiian President Patti Chevalier.
Chevalier said the six were later released from the hospital.
"We're grateful everybody's OK," she said.
The Federal Aviation Administration was expected to begin an investigation today into the cause of the emergency landing.
Chevalier said the helicopter left Kahului Airport at about 9:40 a.m. for an around-the- island tour. She said something happened that made the pilot feel he had to land.
Chevalier did not know if the cause of the emergency landing was a mechanical malfunction or a different problem.
She said the passengers praised the pilot's skill in landing the helicopter, saying he did an "excellent job."
Maui fire officials received a call at about 11:30 a.m. from the Kahului Airport tower, informing them that the tour helicopter had failed to return as scheduled.
Battalion Chief David Kamalani said another Blue Hawaiian helicopter was hovering over the site of the downed aircraft when the fire rescue helicopter arrived at about 11:38 a.m.
Kamalani said the site of the emergency landing was three to four miles from the coastal road.
He said the rescue helicopter picked up passengers and the pilot and transported them to the main highway, where they were taken to the hospital.
Kamalani said damage to the helicopter appeared minimal.
"It was in good shape, for a hard landing," Kamalani said, "but it did sustain some damage."
Chevalier said the five passengers were tourists. She declined to give any other information about them.