About US




Makani Kai Helicopters, founded in 1988, is Oahu’s oldest, largest and most experienced helicopter tour company. The firm started with a single Hughes 500 helicopter and quickly became known for its personalized service and scrupulous attention to safety.

Owner Richard Schuman purchased the firm in 1995 and upgraded the equipment to the Eurocopter AS350 A-Star, considered the standard of the air tour industry. The sleek jet turbine offers unparalleled views from its extra-large windows, and coddles passengers with Bose CD quality sound, air conditioning and a high definition DVD recording system.

Makani Kai Helicopters has remained accident and incident free throughout its history, and its rigorous flight and safety training continue to be the company’s first priority. Makani Kai Helicopters is certified by International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), the first such aircraft operator in the country so distinguished. IS-BAO is a code of best practices designed to help flight departments worldwide achieve the highest level of safety and professionalism. Makani Kai also is a recipient of the prestigious Platinum Safety Award by the Helicopter Association International. The company employs only multi-thousand-hour veteran pilots and has a dedicated safety officer.

The company is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a Part 135 air carrier. This is an important distinction. Some tour companies make due with a Part 91 certificate; the Part 135 certificate is harder to get and requires adherence to higher flight and safety standards.

“The extra trouble is worth it,” says Richard Schuman. “It doesn’t matter to me if we’re the largest or the most profitable helicopter tour company…but it matters a great deal to me that we are among the safest in the islands.”

This philosophy is evident in the pride and dedication demonstrated by the company’s workers. From the time guests are greeted and picked up in Waikiki until the moment they are returned to their hotel, they are guaranteed a memorable experience.

What differentiates Makani Kai from other tour companies is the fact that it employs pilots that must pass Schuman’s standards. “Our pilots are in a league of their own. I am with my pilots every day and ensure they pass on the local knowledge and the Aloha spirt the customer deserves.” These experienced veterans know the island like no one else and provide passengers an outstanding and informative tour experience.

The combination of first-class personnel, top equipment, and a passion for safety and excellence puts Makani Kai Helicopters in a class of its own.