Entries Tagged as 'donald torres'

Kaua’i Helicopter Tour

March 21st, 2007 · No Comments

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Alison, Susan, John

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Rachelle, Susan, Allison & our helicopter

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John & Susan & our helicopter

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Walking over to get into the helicopter.

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Rachelle

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Susan

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John & Allison

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Allison

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John & Allison

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Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

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Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

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Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

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Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

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Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

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Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

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Pilot Donald Torres

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Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

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Koke’e Park Lookout in Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i (we were there a few days before!)

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Ke’e Beach, Kaua’i (we were there the day before!)

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Ke’e Beach, Kaua’i (we were there the day before!)

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Pilot Donald Torres

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John & Allison

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Susan and our pilot

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Getting out of the helicopter.

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Getting out of the helicopter.

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We survived!! Allison, Rachelle, John & Susan.

I don’t know why I took so many photos on our helicopter tour with Inter-Island Helicopters, because I could have taken 3,000 photos and still not captured the beauty and magnificence of the trip. This was definitely the thing that I was the most nervous and excited for on the trip. It was a great experience, of course it was tinged by two helicopters crashing only days later, one of them being the helicopter we flew in, piloted by our same pilot. If you want to read more on that, see this earlier post (related posts where my photos were used on Hawaii news broadcasts here and here). Like I said there, I thought our pilot was great and informative and fun and safe. It’s too bad that the close proximity of the crashes tainted our ride. .. like not the experience itself, but how I feel about ever doing it again or recommending it to others.

I wasn’t going a good job editing out photos I didn’t like, I like them all… so there are a ton. Also, here are Allison’s short video clips taken during our flight – video 1, video 2.

One other thing, Puka Dog. John had become obsessed with trying a Puka Dog, which is a Hawaiian style hotdog. I’ll get into it more in a few posts, but on this day “Puka! Puka! Puka!” was kind of a mantra for us… whenever we were getting freaked out by the Helicopter or anything else we chanted it or said something about “Live for the Puka!” At one point during our helicopter tour John pressed the button to speak and asked Donald, our pilot, if he liked Puka Dog. Donald didn’t understand what he said and all the rest of us were just giggling. Donald was like “what? what?” so I pressed my button and said “He wanted to know if you like Puka Dog!” Donald sort of just rolled his eyes and said they were over rated. I think John started crying. Now what did we have to live for!? Kidding!

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Photos On Hawaii’s KHNL News 8

March 13th, 2007 · 3 Comments

Last night KHNL News Reporter Beth Hillyer contacted me in regard to my post on the helicopter crash. She wanted to know if I could send her any photos I had of Pilot Donald Torres or of my friends and I on the helicopter tour. She said that the local Hawaii media was lauding Torres for his ability to land the helicopter, minus a rotor, while it was spinning out of control. Somehow he managed to steer clear of homes and people. She said that some were even calling him a hero. Since Donald was our pilot and he got us back safely, I was happy to help her out.

Last night the news segment ran at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thanks to Crissy (and Todd?) for recording it for me and posting it on YouTube. Click above or here to see the segment.

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Our Thoughts Are With Pilot Donald Torres

March 12th, 2007 · 15 Comments

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This is out of order for the vacation diary, but a couple things have happened that are really upsetting, and I can’t put them off. In preparation for our trip to Kaua’i, I made a post on this site asking for recommendations for a helicopter touring company because I was concerned about safety. Dallas and his family would hear about helicopter crashes every year or so in Kaua’i and all had recommended against doing it, but we decided to anyway. Jeannette and Yvan recommended Inter-Island Helicopters to us. They looked reputable and were often involved in search-and-rescue missions and with putting out fires and stuff like that, so I booked a tour for me, Allison, Susan and John.

Last Monday, we went on the helicopter ride (I’ll have photos later). It was the scariest thing I’d ever done, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The views were phenomenal and we saw things we’d never see any other way. We all had a really great time. Our pilot Donald was a local guy. It came up in conversation that Dallas is from Waimea and Donald asked how old he is. I told him that Dallas is 30 and Donald said “that’s my age” but he wasn’t sure if they knew each other. Donald went to Waimea High, but Dallas went to Kamehameha on Oahu. Later on, when looking at the photos, Dallas said he didn’t recognize him. Anyway, because we had a local 2007_03_donald_torres.jpgconnection and some of us had been to Kaua’i before, Donald was really fun and personable and jokey with us. It helped make the experience even more great.

On Thursday we were in Oahu and watching the news when we heard that a helicopter crashed on Kaua’i that day. It was another company, but it was still pretty upsetting. I know that millions of people ride those helicopters between crashes but that the crashes make big news in the islands and maybe people are more scared than they should be.. but it was still too close for comfort. Just thinking about how all the people who were killed were on these brilliant vacations and how that all came to a tragic end. Plus the pilot was really experienced and couldn’t do anything. It was a hydraulic failure that caused the crash.

So now today, we’re back in Chicago and Dallas IMed me this morning. There was another crash yesterday. As I read the article my heart started racing. This crash was with the same company we flew with, Inter-Island Helicopters. And even more, not all of Inter-Island’s helicopters are the same and the crashed helicopter looked just like the one we flew in. And then I read it: The pilot was Donald. The Honolulu Advertiser wrote: “Helicopter pilot Donald Torres, a 30-year-old new father and local boy from Hanapepe, by all accounts did a heroic job yesterday of guiding an out-of-control helicopter with its tail rotor ripped off to the only open patch of ground in the Ha’ena area.” I had to rush off to a meeting, and the entire time in there I was freaking out. It was only after I got back to my desk that I realized that Donald is still alive at Wilcox Memorial Hospital. I felt a big relief that someone we’d just met hadn’t been killed, but still so much anxiety about the whole situation. The crash wasn’t Donald’s fault, it seems, and I think he did as well as he could to land the helicopter safely, even though one of his four passengers died as a result of the crash.

On our vacation, the helicopter ride was one of the best things ever, I’m not going to lie, but I don’t know now if it’s worth all the worry. Nothing against Donald or Inter-Island Helicopters, who are often called upon by Kaua’i officials to help in search-and-rescue missions, but I don’t think I’ll be doing a helicopter tour ever again!

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