United States of America
P.I. in the Sky in Hawaii
Our replica Magnum PI helicopter has just taken off across one of Turtle Bay Resort’s two golf courses. The iconic eighties TV show soundtrack is blaring through our headphones and, as the chopper lurches upwards over the disappearing North Shore, I grip the handles above me and check my seatbelt for the fifth time in five minutes.
Our pilot, whom I call TC (he tells me he’s heard it before), points out the famed surf breaks of Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay and the treacherous Pipeline. From this height they don’t seem so nasty. TC banks sharply inland and, as the helicopter leans, I’m looking directly down at the coast. It isn’t the first time in this hour-long circumference of Hawaii’s O’ahu that I question asking for the “no doors” option.
We fly south over vast pineapple and farming plantations. In the distance the rims of ancient volcanoes jag upwards. Within minutes we can see the south coast and Pearl Harbor’s collection of battleships. From our high vantage point directly overhead it looks like a young boy’s bedroom, an enviable collection of toy ships waiting for playtime. TC circles the USS Arizona, sunk by the Japanese on 7 December 1941 leading the USA into World War II. The silhouette of her hull is still visible through the clear Pacific waters.
Ahead commercial airplanes take off and land as we dart through Honolulu International Airport for a quick pit stop. TC picks his route and, as a United Airlines flight departs, we skim across the runway, rising up and out over a forest of skyscrapers shadowing Waikiki Beach from the morning sun.
Circling the imposing Diamond Head we make our way north along the west coast. I can’t help but look back. This ancient volcano stands like a naturally formed colosseum about one kilometre wide. It is a perfect example of the stunning landscape of Hawaii’s islands and is even more impressive from this perspective.
The west coast is dotted with small communities among soaring peaks and islands poking through the ocean’s surface. It is obvious why this island was chosen to film the Jurassic Park series. All that’s missing is a pterodactyl gliding alongside us. TC points out the house where Magnum lived (in the series) then darts inland to Kaliuwa’a (Sacred Falls). We hover above the 330-metre cascade for a few minutes before a final pass over the North Shore surf breaks.
Still shaking as we walk from the chopper, I suggest to TC a Ferrari to take us back to the hotel would be the perfect finish, and he smiles a wide grin. I get the feeling he loves the experience as much as I have even though he’s flown it hundreds of times. He must surely be sick of that theme song though.