1. How many people can a helicopter hold? How is the seating done? Can I sit up front?
Sunshine’s fleet of Astar helicopters seat (accommodate) six passengers plus your pilot. The weight & balance of the helicopter is computer generated and insures proper seat assignment. This system is used to equally distribute the weight, ensuring the pilot a level and safe flying platform. Both fore/aft and lateral balance are considered along with overall total weight of the helicopter. There are two seats to the left of the pilot and four seats directly behind. Our helicopters are made for touring, so each seat provides an excellent view for all passengers. Special requests for certain seats will be granted if allowed by our weight and balance system. Safety is Sunshine’s #1 concern.
2. Do you have a set schedule? What’s the best time to fly?
No, we do not have a set schedule. Tours are established solely upon your request of tour area, day and time. We will fly any tour anytime at your request, weather permitting. We suggest you book (reserve) your flight in advance to ensure availability. All of our tours afford an excellent view, and any flight time whether morning or afternoon should be fantastic.
3. What’s the best tour?
Each of Sunshine’s tours highlights particular areas of interest. Within these areas are many points of interest. We find our guests enjoy each of our offered tours. Repeat flyers generally choose an alternate tour, however sometimes passengers take the same tour over and over again. Also, each pilot choreographs his own music, narration and scenic sights so no flights are the same. Please select the tour that meets your flight-seeing desires.
4. Can we bring a camera? Best camera lens?
Cameras are permitted on board and recommended. We have found through guest comments that a 35mm with ASA 400 or higher with a wide-angle lens works good. Our tours offer some of the most unique photo-taking opportunities anywhere on the planet. We have disposable cameras for sale in our logo shop. Your pilot will create a video of your actual flight utilizing our five-camera system which includes a cabin camera, side and nose cameras and a unique tail camera. (Sold separately)
5. Does the wind affect the helicopter?
Helicopters unlike planes have no fixed wings. The main rotors act as a gyro and stabilize the helicopter in gusty conditions. If wind and gust are such that it will cause an uncomfortable flight, tours will be canceled. Your safety and comfort are our #1 concern.
6. What should I wear? Why do you recommend dark clothes? Will I be comfortable?
Clothing should be comfortable and casual. Dark shirts or tops are recommended for photo taking. Bright colored clothing may put a reflective glare on the helicopter plexiglass windows and reflect in your photos. Dark clothing helps to eliminate the reflection. Our climate control system keeps our helicopters at a comfortable temperature for the entire flight.
7. Do people get sick? Should I take Dramamine?
Although most of our guests enjoy our flights with no discomfort at all, some guests are prone to motion sickness. If this applies to you, we would recommend taking Dramamine or a similar product. As with all medicines, consult with your doctor before use. All of our flights are sightseeing tours and our pilots take pride in providing the smoothest, safest, and most enjoyable tours available. Helicopters have “Aloha” bags on board if needed.
8. How long has Sunshine been in business?
Sunshine’s first tours were flown by Ross using a four-passenger turbine powered Bell Jet Ranger in 1985 on the island of Maui. By 1988 Sunshine was operating three Bell Jet Rangers and one six-passenger Astar. In 1998 we expanded operations to the Kona side of the Big Island and shortly thereafter to Hilo. Today we operate seven six-passenger Astars.
9. Are there restrooms on the helicopter?
No, helicopters are not equipped with restrooms. We do provide restroom facilities at each of our departure/landing sites.
10. How experienced are your pilots?
Sunshine is proud to provide our guests with some of the most experienced pilots in the islands. Each of our pilots receives extensive company and factory training. To find out more about our pilots and training standards go to (About Us/pilots) & (other links/T.O.P.S.)
11. Am I guaranteed to see everything in your tour description?
Tour descriptions are based on what sites have been most requested in the area to be toured. Every attempt will be made by our pilots to cover each site described or requested by you, weather permitting. Pilots will adjust their flight path for wind and weather. We have many alternate sites to recommend. You will have the very best helicopter tour of Hawaii! Again, your safety and comfort are our #1 concern.
12. Will I see lava?
Active lava viewing is available on the Big Island tours only. Lava is regularly seen on our flights over Volcanoes National Park.