How It All Started with Jack Harter Helicopters...
Jack brought his first helicopter to Kauai back in 1962. His dream was to start his own helicopter business on the island offering tours, charters, emergency rescues, and utility services. Raymond Burr (Ironsides and Perry Mason) was so impressed by Jack’s drive, skill and integrity that he decided to invest in one of his earlier enterprises. Jack flew a variety of aircraft throughout his founding years of Kauai’s helicopter industry. Those helicopters included the Bell 47G, Bell 47J, Hiller FH1100, and Sikorsky S-53. Many years of hard work and opportunities eventually led Jack and Bev Harter to start Jack Harter Helicopters. For many years, Jack proudly flew his Bell Jet Ranger 206BII helicopter N83181. He accumulated over 19,000 hours of flight time in that Jet Ranger alone.
In his early days, Jack gained permission from the State of Hawaii to land on the Na Pali Coastline. Jack would stop in places like Kalalau, Honopu, and Nualolo and his passengers were able to get out of the helicopter and view the coast from the ground. As tourism in Hawaii grew, so did the popularity of helicopter tours on the islands. Some of the other helicopter companies sought similar landing rights from the state. The State of Hawaii informed Jack that he had the choice to give up his permit to land or all of the helicopter companies would be allowed to land along Na Pali. Jack decided to give up his permission to land in order to protect the natural environment of the island he loved.
As the demand for tours and utility work grew, Jack began hiring other pilots and office staff to assist him. Originally it was just Jack and his wife, Bev, running the entire operation. The competition on Kaua’i for helicopter tours was getting tough; at one point there were 14 companies flying 44 helicopters around the island. Despite the competition, Jack Harter Helicopters has thrived for the past 60+ years, maintaining its status as the originator of helicopter tours on the island. We are so thankful to our loyal customer base and our hardworking staff for making it all possible.
In 2005 Jack Harter Helicopters began offering a new type of tour, a doors-off experience flown in our MD 500. We wanted a way for photographers to capture the pure raw beauty of the island without glare from windows. Once we tried it out, we realized the experience was much more than just better photographs. Flying without doors allows you to be fully immersed in the environment while adding a bit of adventure and thrill to the experience.
As of today, Jack Harter Helicopters operates with 4 MD 500s, 1 Eurocopter AStar, 7 pilots and 34 total employees. We are proud to be the only company on Kauai offering tours in two different types of helicopters. Our MD 500s are amazing helicopters for our doors-off tour, which you could relate to being in a high-powered convertible sports car. And the AStar is great for those who prefer a more comfortable and spacious ride, relatable to a luxury suburban. But of course, it would be impossible to operate for this long (60+ years!) without our amazing team of highly skilled mechanics, pilots, and ground staff. We are extremely grateful for the opportunities we have had over the years to serve our community and its visitors. We love being able to share the beauty of our home with you and hope to see you soon. Aloha!