Meet Paradise Helicopters Pilot, Colin Burkardt!
Q&A with Paradise Helicopters Pilot & Flight Operations Manager, Colin Burkardt.
Where are you from?
North Andover, MA
How did you end up in Hawai’i?
I went on a helicopter tour on Kauai when I was a kid and decided that I wanted to become a helicopter pilot in Hawai’i. I began flight training in Massachusetts after college and one day at flight school I happened to meet the owner of Mauna Loa Helicopters in Kona. I reached out to him a couple weeks later about finishing school out here and moved to Kona 6 months later.
What is your favorite tour to fly and why?
Any tour with a landing. Whether it’s landing just for a break with a view or exploring with Hawaii Forest and Trail, getting out and about on the ground in areas that are otherwise inaccessible to the public are what make this job so unique and satisfying for me. It really immerses the guests not just in the environment, but in the culture, history, and majesty of the landscape.
What do you do for fun (besides flying helicopters)?
I love to surf and free dive, hike, fish, play music, take the dogs on hiking or beach missions, get up on top of the mountains to see what the stars are doing, and the list goes on. The islands offer so many adventures in all of their different climate zones, I could never run out of things to do here.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Hawai’i?
In Kona, I’d have to say Da Poke Shack for a quick lunch, and for a more formal dining experience, I have to go with Papa Kona right in town. The food, environment, and staff are all a 12/10. You can’t beat the sunset view.
What’s your background in flight experience? Where did you get the bulk of your hours?
I began flying airplanes in order to get ahead in the application process for the Marine Corps, but was offered a chance to get out here to Hawai’i before I submitted the application. It ended up taking me a little while longer to achieve my dream of becoming a helicopter pilot, but now I have about 5,500 hours of flight time, with about 5,200 of those hours in Hawai’i between airplanes and helicopters. I currently hold an Airline Transport Pilot’s license in multi-engine airplanes, a commercial single-engine license for both land and sea planes, and my commercial helicopter pilot’s license and instrument rating. My goal is to be able to fly anything that might be parked at any airport. As my dad says, “if a washing machine had wings, Colin would learn how to fly it”.
If you could design the ideal charter helicopter adventure to take some guests on, what would that look like?
Oh man. The sky is the limit. Living on Maui now, I’d love to start at the Kahului airport and head northeast to check out the famous surf breaks at Ho’okipa and Peahi before following the coastline out to Hana. We would land at the Hana Hotel out there and have breakfast and mimosas (not me of course) at their restaurant before a scenic horseback ride at Hana Ranch. Then we could take off and head up toward the summit of Haleakala to see its rocky red crater and maybe even catch a view across the channel of the Big Island before heading down to check out the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm and Ulupalakua Ranch. If it’s winter and the whales are out, we’d cruise over the waters of Wailea and Kihei before heading over to the west side of the island. We’d enjoy views of Kaho’olawe, Lanai, and Molokai as we round Lahaina and head toward Kapalua for a quick 9 holes of golf at Kapalua’s Plantation Course. Following lunch at the clubhouse, we’d depart for Molokai’s south shore to check out some of the most beautiful coral reef before climbing the ridge and dropping into the north shore valleys and out to the north shore to see the Moloka’i sea cliffs. They’re some of the tallest in the world. Then we’d head back across the channel to fly into Kahakuloa valley and take in the beautiful waterfalls of west Maui before returning back to Kahului in time for dinner.
To inquire about booking Colin’s Dream Charter, contact our Charter Specialists at 808-326-3336. Learn more about our charter offerings.