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Meet The Founder, Calvin Dorn

Meet the Founder, Calvin Dorn

Calvin Dorn pursued a degree in Forestry at Humboldt State University in Northern California, during which time he was able to fit in some helicopter rides while fighting forest fires in the Western part of the United States. This sparked his passion for helicopter aviation. After graduation, Cal enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a helicopter pilot and was on active duty for eight years. Following Cal’s time as an active duty Marine, he took a helicopter pilot job in San Diego, California, flying UH-1E’s and an MD 500 professionally as a defense contractor. In 1990, Cal moved himself and his family to Kaua’i with a recently-obtained Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate. Cal flew in Kaua’i for eight months as an instructor and then shifted to flying sightseeing tours and utility work. Shortly after that he began doing contract work on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and Cal relocated his family to Kailua Kona to open a new base for Mauna Kea Helicopters to accommodate increasing demand. Cal became the chief pilot for tour and utility operations between 1995 and 1999. In 1999, Cal purchased K&S Helicopters, Inc. which started doing business under the name of Paradise Helicopters, with one base and two helicopters.

“My experience in flying tours and being a Chief Pilot provided me with just enough good examples of what to do and what not to do, to take over K&S Helicopters, Inc. and begin growing the company,” says Calvin Dorn in response to starting operations for Paradise Helicopters.

In the first year of operation, Paradise doubled its fleet by the fourth quarter with the addition of a MD 500 and the initial Bell 206 for a total of four helicopters in the fleet. In 2002, Paradise Helicopters opened its second base of operations, in Kona, Hawai’i, only to quickly add a third base in O’ahu at Turtle Bay Resort Helipad. Currently, Paradise Helicopters has five bases in the state of Hawai’i: two located on the Hawai’i Island and three on the island of O’ahu.

Paradise Helicopters is an award-winning, global leader in aviation safety. As CEO, Cal has been committed to a high level of safety from the beginning, setting strict safety requirements himself. The safety program at Paradise is now managed by our full-time Safety Officer who was appointed in 2013 and has written a Safety Management System (SMS) manual to guide efforts. In their first safety audit by IS-BAO (International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations) in 2015, Paradise Helicopters achieved Stage One certification, the highest certification possible. Following this, Paradise Helicopters requested to be the first tour company audited by HAI-APS (Helicopter Association International’s Safety Accreditation Program) and passed that audit in January 2016. “Our first in the world certificate number of #001 was a milestone in the company and ensures we are prepared for the future,” said CEO, Cal Dorn.

Cal has instilled a motto of “Being the Bamboo” into the Paradise Helicopters team culture, meaning we will bend and change as necessary to achieve the goal but will stay strong to the core values which are Pride, Aloha, Responsibility, Adaptability, Dependability, Integrity, Safety, and Excellence… and as Cal always reminds his team, last but not least, the final core value is Fun.

To help guide the company, Cal has instituted a tracking software created by consulting firm, Execute To Win, a company that helps organizations “link culture to financial results through enterprise-wide leadership performance optimization.” This cloud-based employee evaluation program helps make sure all employees know what is expected of them and how their performance will be measured. The program also provides all employees with a look at how the company is performing in different departments and shares the goals and aspirations of leadership so that everyone is working toward a common goal.

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