OUR HISTORY

THE MAKANI KAI STORY

 

OUR HISTORY

What does a horse and buggy have to do with helicopters? The carriage that resides in the lobby of our new building was once the iconic symbol of Schuman Carriage, a company that provided for the transportation needs of our island for more than a century. In its heyday, Schuman Carriage was Oahu’s authorized dealer for Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile and other General Motors vehicles. Schuman Carriage also represented Subaru.

In 1893 16-year old Gustav Adolph Schuman emigrated from Germany and founded Schuman Carriage Company here. A harness maker by training, Schuman brought together a wheelwright and other craftsmen to offer a line of carriages, dump carts, farm wagons, saddles and whips.

After a visit to the 1903 World’s Expo in St. Louis, Schuman foresaw the impact of the internal combustion engine and introduced the Pope-Tribune horseless carriage to the island. The following year, he began selling Tin Lizzies at Hawai'i's first automobile dealership.

Soon thereafter, the horse and buggy were relegated to history, but this example continued to serve as a centerpiece for the company. In addition to being featured in television advertisements, the horse and carriage graced Schuman’s main showrooms for more than five decades.

Richard Schuman, owner of Makani Kai Helicopters, is the great grandson of Gustav Adolph. “I remember sitting in the carriage when I was a kid,” says Richard. “It’s fitting and proper that this symbol of transportation that was synonymous with the family name now enjoys the spotlight at a business that carries tens of thousands of guests on aerial sightseeing adventures.”

After over a century in business, Schuman Carriage quietly closed its doors in 2006. Hawaii’s most recognized carriage now links past and present in a new venue, unsullied by time, still a proud symbol of an earlier day.