Travelers looking to explore Maui from above have three new air tour products to choose from, all operated by Valley Isle newcomer Maverick Helicopters, which hosted its first official flight over the island April 10.
The operator may be better known for its flights over Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, but according to Brian Brusa, the Maverick Helicopters manager who oversees the new Hawaii operation, the company's owners, Greg and Brenda Rochna, have a strong connection with Maui.
"Greg actually started his air tour flying on the island of Maui," Brusa said. "And Brenda worked at the company, as well, checking people in for [Maui] flights and loading them into the helicopters."
The Rochnas relocated to Las Vegas and started Maverick Helicopters 19 years ago, but Brusa said the couple still owns property on Maui and have family living on the island. They've also had their eye on the destination as a place to launch new air tour products for a couple of years now, and Brusa noted the timing was right recently when Maverick took over an existing operation from a bankrupt Maui helicopter company.
Along with offering flights onboard Airbus EC130 Eco-Star helicopters, which can hold up to seven passengers and feature leather, theater-style bucket seats, Maverick has made a large investment into its ground facilities at the Kahului Airport.
"We just spent close to $1 million renovating and remodeling the hangar and the lobby tour area," Brusa said.
Maui visitors can also purchase a one-of-a-kind souvenir of the Valley Isle experience following a Maverick flight.
"Every one of our helicopters has an onboard sky cam, and everything that is seen and said on every flight is recorded," Brusa said. "It's not a canned DVD that customers can buy; it's actually their particular flight."
The new tour options include a comprehensive tour of Maui that circles the island and the company's 65-minute Molokai Voyage, which begins at Kahului and offers a number of Valley Isle highlights before heading across the channel to Molokai. The flight features one of the state's most jaw-dropping natural attractions, the Molokai sea cliffs, which are the world's tallest, soaring as high as 3,600 feet above the ocean.
"That's actually my favorite tour, because it's a multi-island flight," Brusa said. "For people who plan to just stay on Maui for several days, they can say they actually saw a different island and [did so] from a bird's-eye perspective."
Maverick's third Maui flight offers a much closer look at the now-dormant shield volcano Haleakala, which rises 10,000 feet above sea level.
"You can drive up to the Haleakala Crater, and you can even bicycle down, but to actually see down into it while flying above is just a wonderful experience," Brusa said.
Maverick's tours start at $329 per person and are commissionable to agents. Visit www.flymaverick.com/maui