OUR STAFF

THE MAKANI KAI FAMILY

 

We have built our aerial tour business to be the very best possible by assembling the most experienced pilots and the best aircraft. We backed these with the most comprehensive maintenance program and with a total commitment to safety. Over the years, we have developed the most comfortable and efficient ground transportation system possible between the airport and Waikiki. We have constructed a modern, airy, clean and esthetically pleasing passenger terminal and shopping area to maximize passenger satisfaction.

But in truth, our most valuable asset is our people. The Schuman philosophy is to hire the most qualified individuals for the job, individuals with heart, and then strive to retain those employees by paying them well and treating them with the respect they deserve. Which explains why our employees tend to remain on the job so much longer than workers at other tour companies. We know that there’s nothing quite so confidence building for an agent as being able to deal with the same reservationists year after year, that drivers who have been making the trip into Waikiki for a decade are unlikely to get lost, that happy support personnel are more apt to do their job with passion and commitment. It is our promise to you that we will always be a family, gracious and professional, to help you do your job the best that you can.

 

Richard Schuman - Owner

Richard’s family has been in the transportation business in Hawaii for more than a hundred years. His great grandfather emigrated from Germany and began making carriage wheels here and then founded the Schuman Carriage Company in 1893. Richard began flying helicopters in 1992 and, four years later, he bought Makani Kai Helicopters. Richard believes in providing nothing less than the very best in customer service, a philosophy we hope you will notice when you fly with Makani Kai.

 

 

Diane Schuman - Chief Financial Officer

The former Diane Haglund was born and raised in Harrisville, Michigan. She majored in Business and Accounting at Northwood Institute (now Northwood University) in Midland, Michigan, where she met her future husband, Richard Schuman. Following graduation, she moved to Oahu in 1981 and was an accountant for an auto accessory company and then a law firm. She and Richard were married in 1984 and had their first daughter, Kaleo, in 1988. Her interests include tennis, hiking and riding her Harley Davidson.

 

 

Chuck Lanza - Manager of Operations

Chuck is Makani Kai’s manager of operations and chief safety officer. He arranges everything from charters to group movements and organizes company meetings, oversees haz mat procedures and schedules maintenance. A veteran of the helicopter tour business, Chuck started with HeliTrans in Honolulu in 1991, joined Papillion in 1992, and he’s run the show at Makani Kai since 1994. Chuck is a Black Belt in multiple martial arts disciplines and is a devotee of Japanese swords.

 

 

Donna Bermea - Bookkeeper

Donna was born and raised on Oahu and attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She worked as an assistant manager at a fast food franchise, a savings counselor for First Federal, then joined local real estate firm Marcus & Associates as an administrative aid. The finance part of the business caught her attention and she worked her way into the world of accounting. Donna then joined Equity Properties and handled that company’s accounting for a decade. A techie at heart, Donna enjoys the challenge of working with anything that makes the rest of us scratch our heads. She’s also quite handy, having learned to lay flooring, put up drywall and other home improvement tasks, although she steers clear of power tools.

 

 

P.J. O’Reilley - Sales and Marketing

P.J. was born in Carmel, California, and has been interested in aviation since childhood. He went to school at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he majored in Theater and Politics, which, he later discovered, turned out to be the same thing. He soloed a Cessna on his 16th birthday and started flying helicopters once he came to Hawaii. He is best known among activity agents in Waikiki as The Brownie Man because he delivers the home made treats on his visits.

 

 

Jeri Brede - Customer Service Representative

Jeri, an Oahu native, was married at an early age and became the mother of six children. True to the Hawaiian custom of generosity, Jeri and her husband adopted an open door policy for nieces and nephews as well as other children in the neighborhood who frequently came over to eat. “We shared food, clothes and whatever they needed,” says Jeri. “I’m not one for luxury…family is everything.” With the last of her children high school age, Jeri entered the work world and spent seven years with Pacific Wings as a reservationist and fueler, and with a United Airlines contractor in customer service. She relishes spending time with her family and perusing her hobby of genealogy, where she’s traced her father’s ancestors, all pure Hawaiians, back to the 1800’s.

 

 

 

 

Quinten Sherbert - 

Born and raised in Honolulu, Quinten is one of those guys who can tell you anything and everything about the world of telecommunications and information technology. In fact, he began installing phones and troubleshooting network systems right out of high school. Some people just have the knack, eh? Quinten currently attends Kapiolani Community College part time and is working towards his MBA. Driving on the weekends for Makani Kai is, “interesting because I meet people from all over the world and hear so many intriguing stories.”

 

 

Rubi Guerra - Reservationist

A Molokai girl from the start, Rubi comes from a long line of builders and engineers. “Everyone in my family, from my parents and grandparents, their brothers and sisters, seemed to gravitate towards construction and building.” So it was not a stretch for Rubi to study maintenance and engineering at Molokai Community College. She went to work for Molokai Ranch as a hostess after she learned that she could make more money doing that than maintenance. During her 13 years with the Ranch, she also worked as a waitress, tour driver, cook and doing “Whatever it took to keep things running smoothly,” she says. When Molokai Ranch shuttered its operation, Rubi joined Mokulele Airlines as a reservationist and counter person. An active mother of four, Rubi enjoys hiking, surfing and spending time with her kids.

 

 

Bryson Takata - Reservationist

Born and raised on Oahu, Bryson epitomizes the outdoors lifestyle, loving to fish, hike, paddle board, and just hang out at the beach. “It’s where I like to be,” he says. A graduate of Kailua High School, Bryson worked in the Kaneohe MCBH commissary for several years before moving to Mokulele Airlines as a customer service agent. More like a utility infielder, Bryson took reservations, hauled bags and, in general, did what needed doing. His favorite part of the job? The people, “I really enjoy interacting with people, taking care of their needs and making sure everyone’s happy.” When he’s not on or near the ocean, Bryson spends his free time traveling, his favorite destination being Las Vegas. He also adores Italian food, sushi and spending time with his Chihuahua Hurley.

 

 

Eiki Miyasato - Pilot

Eiki was born in Okinawa and moved to Hawaii in 1972. He became a tour driver and, over the next 15 years, learned the ins and outs of Waikiki. When a friend of his started taking flying lessons in airplanes, Eiki was intrigued but decided to pursue his helicopter rating instead. After he earned his Commercial license and Instructor’s rating, he started flying tours and teaching for Hawaii International Helicopters. In 1991, he joined Makani Kai Helicopters. Today, Eiki has well over 15,000 hours of flight time and has gone on to earn his fixed-wing Private, Commercial, Instrument and Multi-Engine ratings.

 

 

Morley Gray - Pilot

Raised on Oahu, Morley attended the University of Hawaii and spent a considerable amount of time surfing before he moved to Keauhou on the Big Island. There, he worked for a charter fishing outfit, tended bar at night and pumped gas for Royal Hawaiian Air Service. The pilots at Royal Hawaiian would occasionally invite Morley to come with them on flights with no passengers he would be allowed to take the controls. He got hooked. “I loved flying and knew that this is what I wanted to do.” After earning his private fixed-wing license in Kona, he went to flight school with the National Guard where he flew Hueys, Cobras and, later, CH-47s. His first commercial flying job was conducting air tours of Kilauea Volcano in an MD-500. That was followed by gigs with Scenic Air Tours, Hawaiian Air, Heli USA, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Evergreen, Blackwater and Dyncorp.

 

 

Jim O’Donohue - Pilot

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Jim majored in computer science but wound up starting a radio communications business serving police, fire and medical organizations. He’d been in business 20 years when one day a helicopter caught his attention and he couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to fly. He began his flight training in Oregon and says his first takeoffs and landings were in snow and ice. Knowing a little change in latitude can make a huge difference, Jim continued his flying career in Hawaii, where operations aren’t quite so frigid. He enjoyed flying a Bell JetRanger for a local TV station but what really stirs his blood is flying the MD-500 without the doors. “It’s different than flying the A-Star, a more involving experience.” A certified flight instructor, he also has his CFI-I. When he’s not airborne, Jim likes to scuba, snorkel and spend time on the beach with his wife.

 

 

Doug Froning - Pilot

Originally from Ohio, Doug was brought up in the Orange County area of Southern California. He majored in engineering at UC Irvine and went to work for local firm Bender & Associates drawing plans for subdivision infrastructure. “But it was far from fulfilling work,” says Doug. He and a colleague decided to quit one day and head up to Lake Tahoe for snowboarding and to reassess their professional lives. It was there that he met his future bride, Lee, and wound up following her to Hawaii, where she was to attend nursing school. “One day we were walking on the beach and a Coast Guard helicopter passed over and something clicked inside,” says Doug, “I had always been drawn to aviation and suddenly knew that I wanted to fly helicopters.” He earned his ratings with Mauna Loa Helicopters and subsequently took a job with Evergreen flying medevac missions in Bell 412s. Doug enjoys surfing, hiking and swimming.

 

 

Travis Shilling - Director of Maintenance

Travis hails from Nebraska but spent a considerable amount of his youth in Arizona. He attended Arizona State and then received his Airframe and Powerplant training at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Travis’ experience belies his years: he worked at Heli Support in Phoenix, Trans Alaska in Anchorage, Papillion on Kauai, St. Louis Helicopters, Hawkins & Powers and others before coming to Makani Kai to run the shop. He has nearly 20 years of experience with A-Stars. In his off time, Travis enjoys golfing, fishing and taking his Harley for a ride.

 

 

Mike Stroup - Assistant Director of Maintenance, A&P Apprentice

Born in Darby, Pennsylvania, in 1962, Mike was in ROTC in high school and joined the Navy upon his graduation in 1980. He first saw Hawaii when he came to Pearl Harbor in January of 2000 aboard the nuclear attack submarine San Francisco. An electrician and Chief Petty Officer by training, Mike was stationed here until his retirement in 2004. He immediately began training for his helicopter license and eventually earned his Private, Commercial, Instrument and Instructor ratings. An avid cyclist, Mike frequently engages in friendly competition and will pedal around the island just for fun. He enjoys meeting the different people he brings to and from the airport and looks forward to his turn on next season’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

 

 


 

 

Glenn Takamatsu - Parts Manager

Born and raised on Oahu, Glenn joined the National Guard out of high school and eventually wound up in the Army Reserve, where he served for 27 years. During that time, he took a job with Napa Auto Parts as a driver. For the next 41 years, Glenn pretty much did it all for the company, from warehouse supervisor to counter sales to manager to operations manager to parts manager. You get the idea that he’s a loyal kind of guy. Makani Kai owner Richard Schuman, who managed Napa during Glenn’s a portion of tenure, was more than happy to bring him aboard here to provide the same level of competence and professionalism he’d demonstrated during his Napa career. Besides enjoying time with his grandson, Glenn toils in his garden even though he admits to having a black thumb.

 

 

 

 

Kevin Pedersen - Driver

Kevin is a local boy, born and raised on Oahu. Following high school, he became interested in auto body repair and enrolled in Honolulu Community College’s program to learn the trade. But the toxic dust and debris inherent in that profession soon convinced him to move on and he became a courier for the banks, hauling cleared checks and other documents around the island. A fondness for food preparation led him into the restaurant trade where he honed his culinary skills. But eventually he elected to join the Makani Kai team as one of our ace drivers. Kevin truly enjoys what he does, especially meeting people from around the world. “It certainly provides me with perspective on what’s going on out there.” In his spare time, Kevin enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoor pursuits, as well as building and flying radio control helicopters.

 

 

Val Kalaoa, Sr. - Driver

One of ten children, Val was born and raised near what are now the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. “It used to be bungalows back then,” he says, “and we’d sneak into the swimming pool out by the pier.” An ILH medalist in golf when he attended Kaimuki High School, Val recalls caddying for the likes of Ted Makalena and Francis I’i Brown. He entered the Army after high school, did his basic at Fort Ord, California, his advanced infantry training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and did a tour of Vietnam. He worked for Dole Pineapple in Iwilei for 27 years as a can manufacturing mechanic until the factory was phased out in ’96. He began driving for Makani Kai in 2003 and says the best part of his job is meeting tourists from around the world. He and his wife Charlene have 6 kids, 13 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

 

 

Kaipokai “Kaipo” Lee - Driver / Loader / Reservationist

Born and raised on Oahu, Kaipo attended Castle High School in Kaneohe. He took a job with Island Air and, over 18 years with the airline, moved from ramper to supervisor. “I liked the people I worked with,” says Kaipo, “and the job was fun.” Needing to support a growing family, he took a part time job with Hawaiian Electric Company doing a variety of things, from inspecting power lines and driving a shuttle to cleaning and maintaining condensers. He’s been with HECO for seven years now. Facing an uncertain future with Island Air, he joined Makani Kai and loves what he does. With two jobs, there’s not a lot of time for leisure, but Kaipo enjoys those rare moments by spending time with his family, going to the beach or the movies.

 

 

Laurie Kurosawa - Driver / Loader

Aviation is in Laurie’s blood: both her father and her stepfather were pilots, so it was no surprise that she enlisted in the Air Force out of high school, hoping to one day fly jets. She wound up in Communications Operations as a radio operator and dispatcher for aircraft, a post she kept for 12 years. Feeling the need to return to her birthplace in Kona, where she grew up on a coffee farm, Laurie came home to help her mother care for her sister and her father. She worked a variety of hospitality jobs before focusing on helping disabled persons and homeless veterans, first as an employment specialist with Lanikila Pacific, and then with US Vet. Laurie enjoys fishing, photography and building models of her favorite aircraft.