Tag: lava

Helicopter View of Kilauea Volcano

Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour

On my trip to Hawaii last summer, a highlight was a helicopter flyover of the active volcano on the Big Island. I do not like flying and the thought of a helicopter ride scared me. But I am trying to get out of my comfort zone. So I scheduled a flight for late afternoon the day before we left. This gave a little room for rescheduling in case of inclement weather.

We landed in Hilo about two hours before our scheduled flight. We used the extra time to pick-up the rental car and checked into a hotel. Since Hilo is a nice sized city we were able to accomplish everything in plenty of time to arrive back at the airport for the Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tour.

The afternoon was perfect. We were lucky because Hilo has a lot of rain. The amount depends on what part of the city you are but ranges between 130 and 300 inches. Therefore Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Hilo location recommends back-up times in case the tour needs to reschedule. Fortunately the weather was perfect.


There were eight of us on the flight. We had to estimate our weight when we signed up for the flight. However, Blue Hawaiian Helicopter did not leave anything to chance. We were weighed upon check-in. It is important to distribute the weight.

Wes the pilot was fantastic. He put me at ease before we ever left ground. Maybe he could tell just how scared I was! We loaded one at a time and I entered first. My assigned seat was next to the pilot. Even though the placement scared me at first, it was a good decision. No way was I going to fool around with any of the controls.

Once we were all loaded, Wes reassured us that the weather would be monitored closely and if conditions warranted we would return to the airport immediately. Next, he explained what the flight would entail. Kilauea Volcano was our prime target. We would look at the lava flowing into the ocean near Kamokuna before a flyover of the crater.

On the way to the volcano we flew over cropland. The Big Island grows coffee, tea, vanilla, bananas and avocados just to name a few.  If it weren’t for the active volcano, I would consider this an ideal place to farm.


After the crop land, the ground transitions to rock. Blue Hawaiian Helicopter is a great way to see the lava flows. From the air you can see how irregular the lava flow is. The lava rock envelopes islands of vegetation. There is even a spot where you can see a road that has lost both ends to the flow. The active volcano is a constant threat. Places on the island such as Pahoa Village, which was threatened in 2014, are always at risk.

The ocean entry near Kamokuna draws sightseers both in the air and on the water.  The helicopter ride makes the view safe. This is the youngest part of the island. The interaction of the hot lava with the ocean is dynamic. The molten debris is unstable and creates dangerous conditions. At times, the rocks slide into the ocean.  Additionally, the hot steam can cause problems.

After a few passes of the ocean entry point for the lava, the helicopter headed to the crater. On the way we saw several areas of steam rising from the land. In these spots lava was just below the surface. In some areas vegetation is trying to re-emerge.

The aerial view of the crater is unbelievable. We were fortunate because the activity was high on the day we toured. As you can see in the pictures, multiple areas were erupting. A video camera would show the actual bubbling and Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours creates a video of each flight. I could have circled over the crater for hours. The helicopter approach is the only way to safely see the lava erupting from the base of the crater.

On the return to the airport we flew over one of the many waterfalls on the Big Island. The view from the air was impressive, but I have hiked safely around water. I do not think I would hike to the edge of an active volcano. I am very glad I challenged myself. The helicopter ride ranks in my top five experiences of my Hawaiian trip. I highly recommend Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours.

Helicopter Photos

Hawaiian fields
Cropland near Hilo
Overview of Hilo
Lava Flow
Vegetation and lava
Vegetation surrounded
Road and lava
Road to Nowhere
Entry point Lower Left Corner
Steam created at entry point.
Hot flow
Steam from underground vents
Approaching the crater
Smoke from crater
First look of hot spots
Close up of bubbling lava
Crater 5
Last look of crater
Hawaii flight
Flying overland