Fly Over the Current Kilauea Eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii - Paradise Helicopter
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Fly Over the Current Kilauea Eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii

Jan 01, 1970

UPDATE: While still technically an active volcano, Kīlauea is not currently erupting. Its most recent eruption lasted from December 20, 2020 to May 23, 2021.

What you need to know about flying over the current Kīlauea, eruption on the Big Island of Hawai’i

Updated Jan 6, 2021. Originally Posted Dec 22, 2020.

I heard there was a volcanic eruption – what is happening?

On the night of Sunday December 20, 2020, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, part of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), reported a glow within the Halemaʻumaʻu crater of Kīlauea, indicating that an eruption had started. Lava flowed through three fissure vents and into the crater’s basin where it heated the lava lake to a boil. The lava is currently contained to the crater where USGS says the volcanic activity has “stabilized”. This eruption was accompanied by seismic activity.


Where is the eruption?

The current volcanic activity is taking place in the Halemaʻumaʻu crater of Kīlauea on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Kīlauea is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world and lies within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, surrounded by 335,259 acres of protected land.

Video footage by Mick Kalber of Tropical Visions.

Is it safe to fly?

Yes, with reasonable safety precautions. USGS reports that currently volcanic activity has stabilized, lava is contained to the Halemaʻumaʻu crater, and the only danger from the eruption is a reduction in air quality in the surrounding area. If necessary, pilots will deviate their route to ensure the most optimal flying conditions.

At Paradise Helicopters, we’ve been flying over the active volcano since 1999. Our pilots are aware of the hazards and regularly train according to a rigorous safety program. Helicopters in general have been flying near volcanic activity on the Island of Hawai’i since the 1970s. 


**Is this similar to the eruption that happened in 2018? **

Kīlauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Until September 4, 2018, it had been erupting continuously since 1983. With several notable exceptions, the vast majority of activity over that 35-year period was in Halema’uma’u Crater (the location of the current activity) and Pu’u O’o Vent.  

In April of 2018, the Pu’u O’o Vent collapsed, and the collapse was followed by fissures opening in the Eastern Rift Zone in the Leilani Estates area. These fissures, and specifically Fissure 8, produced a large amount of lava that eventually formed a molten river that flowed through several communities and into the ocean.

The event that started recently on December 20, 2020 is contained to the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. Halemaʻumaʻu is situated inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. No homes or residents are in immediate danger. 


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