Flying Agricultural Jobs Supports Local Business and Keeps Our Pilots Sharp
When we are not flying guests on tours to see the most incredible landscapes across the islands, we keep ourselves busy and our pilots sharp by flying utility, agriculture, transportation, and emergency response flights.
Earlier this month we were proud to help the second-largest macadamia nut farm in the world with fertilizer application. This job took place over several days at MacFarms’ 4,000-acre Kapua Ranch Orchard near Captain Cook. Pilot and Paradise Helicopters owner, Cal, flew approximately 460 passes over the orchards, conducting a refuel after every 12-17 loads were distributed. On-the-ground support was provided by Paradise’s Kevin and Adriana along with MacFarms workers led by Dan. Paradise had a fuel truck on site to enable us to continue operations without the need to leave for refueling.
“When we are on the job we are a team with one goal in mind: safely, efficiently and quickly finishing the job so that the farm can continue operations as normal,” says Kevin.
“Agricultural jobs like this are dynamic and require ground support to think on their feet. It isn’t sufficient for ground support to idly standby waiting to fuel the chopper. We need to be constantly thinking and planning to ensure the team is set up properly to continue spraying – something the pilot can’t be preoccupied with while he is absorbed in navigating a 1,700-pound bucket at the end of a line. This is where teamwork comes into play.”
Many agricultural businesses use aircraft to help them apply treatments to their fields. Helicopters are often preferred because they tend to be more efficient at these types of jobs – but also because they allow for flights that are more neighborly than fixed-wing aircraft. Because helicopters can make sharp turns easily, a pilot can precisely limit the area that is flown over to exclude residences or nearby roads. This precise maneuverability also enables helicopters to accommodate uneven terrain and means they don’t need a runway to land for reloading material onsite – they can hover or land in a small clearing.
Paradise Helicopters uses special technology to catalog precise flight maps and spray exact polygons on the earth, granting us the ability to analyze and optimize our spray patterns. “We used to spray the same way the farm sectioned off their ranch, but TRACMAP helps us look at the bigger picture and spray in a pattern that optimizes our delivery and flight time. This reduces the wear on our aircraft and equipment while keeping costs down for our clients,” said Cal.
While our pilots all have a passion for being ambassadors to these islands and enjoy flying guests on tours, they also enjoy flying agricultural jobs such as this one. These types of jobs require careful planning, the pilot’s full attention, ultimate precision – and they offer the satisfaction that we are helping local businesses thrive.