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Flying in Hawaii

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After completing my private pilot licence and doing my research (in particular, reading the recommendations on this forum!) I decided to take a couple of years out and focus my attention on earning enough money to pay for the rest of my training.


My intention then is to move back stateside on continue with my CPL, CFI, CFII etc. Before i left I did a tour of several flight schools across the country but one of the places I didnt get to go to was hawaii (although I am planning to rectify this on holiday next summer).


Aside from the sheer distance from the mainland, living and flying in Hawaii sounds like a dream come true. I have done some research into flying with Mauna Loa helicopters and they seem to have everything I would like to see in a school (aside from flying robbies instead of the S300 - but we wont go there ;)), what concerns me is that :


(a) From my experience when something seems to be that good, it usually means I have missed something and

(B) I have seen some negative posts around the forum when talking about pilots from Hawaii and I am not sure why this is.


So I was hoping to get some opinions from the forum users as to any of these points for example.


(a) has anyone completed the training with Mauna Loa and has anything to share - good bad or indifferent? Do they hire any former students as instructors? Is flying in Hawaii as good as they make out on there advertising videos?


(B) Whats your opinion on pilots who had their training done in Hawaii? I get the impression that Temsco hire a few of their pilots but I dont know if that is just part of their marketing. What's flying in Hawaii like as a professional pilot after training (I am looking years down the road here) eg flying tours or EMS in Hawaii.


Any input/comments anyone has is welcomed!


Thanks in advance,



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I trained at Mauna Loa Helicopters from 2010 to 2011 and i have plenty of information for you. I am now flying in China in AS350 B3 and soon to arrive R22 / R44 for our new flight school.


I have photos of Mauna Loa Helicopters , the flights that you do, accommodation - and can help you with some information on getting the most out of the school, living in Hawaii, which islands to train on, some advice on training and even some contact information for after you finish the program.


As for flying Robbies V S300 - I have had the pleasure of flying both. The R22 is a little more lively - for sure - but i think that makes you a better pilot ultimately.


MLH do hire many of their graduates - and this is one of the ways to build time for that first job in the real world.


Please contact me directly at pilotheath@gmail.com for more information.


Happy to help you.



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  • 1 month later...

MLH is a great school. I attended there for a short time while working towards my CPL. The staff was very professional in every aspect as well as knowledgeable. If you don't have any hesitation in learning to fly a 22 with a 24/7 steady 20 knot wind (trade winds rarely stop that far out in the ocean), then they are the ticket. The instructor I had at the time is now flying tours in NYC in an A-Star. Best of luck to you.

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If you don't have any hesitation in learning to fly a 22 with a 24/7 steady 20 knot wind.


But the wind is your friend! :D Makes auto's easy. I've heard both reviews. Good and bad. I guess you always have to take what you hear with a grain of salt huh. We have a guy at our school who came from Hawaii to train with us so....to each their own. But hey, I wouldn't mind flying in Hawaii, sipping on Mai Tai's and laying on the beach studying! Although I think the studying is inversely proportional to the amount of Mai Tai consumption.... Best of Luck!

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  • 3 weeks later...

How so?,...being its an island a lot of us cannot afford to visit, with only one helicopter flight school, an tour jobs only for the high time guys!


Without sounding sarcastic… High time guys know other high time guys who’ve worked for other operators and started out at other flight schools…… In short, tour pilots will know lots of people who may be able to help you out. Plus, there are lots of tour operators in Hawaii. Get to know them and you may be able to leave your foot in the door for future employment. Shoot, why not try to get some kind of part-time/full-time hangar rat type of job while you train?


Compare the above with any flight school on the mainland and you’d be hard pressed to find anything comparable. In fact, do the ramp test yourself. That is, go to the local flight school and stand out on the ramp for a short period of time. Other than the school, how many helicopters do you see? I just came back from Hawaii and there was a helicopter flying over my head all day every day. Granted, some were one helicopter multiple times but a lot of helicopters nonetheless…. Lots of helicopters = lots of helicopter people. Helicopter people are the people you want to network with.

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Shoot, why not try to get some kind of part-time/full-time hangar rat type of job while you train?



This is the smartest thing to do during flight training. Especially in Hawaii where there are so many tour operators and the hiring minimums are higher. You can sell tickets, load pax, clean helicopters, etc. Getting paid to network and learn. Not a bad idea.

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How so?,...being its an island a lot of us cannot afford to visit, with only one helicopter flight school, an tour jobs only for the high time guys!


You can afford it if you budget it into your training. A one way ticket of several hundred dollars is nothing compared to the overall cost of training. Yes, cost of living is higher, but learn to live within your means and it's very manageable, even on CFI pay.


Regarding opinions on flight schools, you always have to take things with a grain of salt because most students only experience one school. I went to three and felt that MLH was far and away the best experience I could have asked for. I did my CFI, IFR and CFII with them and was hired a month after completion. I loved being able to go from sea level to an 8000' MSL peak in about 5 min from the airport. You can experience Bravo airspace, inter-island cross countries, challenging weather, and consistently strong trade winds.


The school is great for networking. I got my first turbine job because one of the former instructors whom I flew with once, threw me a recommendation. When I started at that job, MLH pilots outnumbered all other schools by a large margin. Some of those guys are now back in Hawaii flying tours after just a few hundred hours turbine experience. Quite a few have even been hired directly without turbine experience. It's not just who you know, but who knows you.


With that being said, your experience will depend mostly on how you approach your training. Show up with an attitude or without any work ethic and it will be apparent to the people who do the hiring. Impress upon your school that you will be a valuable instructor by maintaining a professional attitude and appearance throughout your training. Nothing will be handed to you, you have to make an effort to excel.


Good luck to the OP and pm me if you have any further questions about MLH or the career in general.

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  • 4 years later...

Update on Mauna Loa Helicopters: Hi - I had originally replied almost 5 years ago to this thread and have had a number of email requests since. Here is a little update. I returned to the school twice since the original posting : The last time was for my ATP License. The school has got even better - more aircraft , a thriving tour business and excellent software for assisting student pilots. I really cannot recommend them highly enough. There are a high % of students who are taken on as CFI's once training has been completed - and a pathway through to the tour operation - which results in gaining sufficient hours to land that all important Turbine Gig. Always happy to answer questions - can PM me or email dan.heath@me.com

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