New Air 1 helicopter expands capabilities for rescue and firefighting operations on Maui
A blessing ceremony was held this morning for the County’s new Air 1 helicopter that will come into service on July 1 of this year.
Fire Chief Bradford Ventura hosted the ceremony to bring the Eurocopter BK117-850G2 aircraft into service under contract with the Maui Fire Department. The blessing was conducted by MFD Assistant Chief of Operations Hanale Lindo.
The aircraft named “Iolani” (royal hawk in Hawaiian), expands capabilities for both rescue and firefighting operations in Maui County.
The ceremony was attended by Mayor Michael Victorino, County Council Member Mike Molina, and representatives from Windward Aviation, Maui Fire Department, Maui Police Department, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Fire Commission, as well as media and the public.
During Chief Ventura’s remarks he mentioned foremost the added safety element of this twin engine helicopter, and how important that was for the safety of both responders and public. He also mentioned the hoist capability (the ability to lift victims and rescuers from the ground into the aircraft) and the increased personnel carrying capacity, and how these would factor into the Department’s use of the aircraft.
Don Shearer, head of Windward Aviation (who operate and service the aircraft under contract with the County), mentioned that he was excited and that “We are in a different era,” when speaking about the added capabilities not only for rescue but firefighting. He said Maui County will be the first county entity in Hawaiʻi to have the capabilities this new aircraft will provide.
The pilots and air crews have already been training on the aircraft in preparation for its service to the people of Maui County.