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Oahu's North Shore as seen through open door helicopter cockpit

Oahu Open Door helicopter tours guide

Never is it possible to see all of Oahu than that in a helicopter, and when its one with its doors removed, it makes for a terrifying yet thrilling experience to be had.

If there is one type of Oahu helicopter tour, doors off is the one to experience as the most thrilling, yet photographer friendly tour available. Oahu open door tours will take in all major sights on the island, with the wind blowing through an open cockpit with a seating arrangement allowing for amazing views.

Nothing can be missed while taking a Oahu open door helicopter tour as its helped with a detailed guide aided by the pilot.

While all tours take in similar sights over the island, and a flight path that is near identical, its possible a diversion will happen.

Private Oahu helicopter tours are the way to go so the sights you want to see most are the main theme of the tour, taking up most time.

If you want to see more of the North Shore in a helicopter tour, then make it so with Mauna Loa Helicopters operating private flights.

Whereas the speed, agility of the Magnum Helicopter Hughes 500 chopper is not for the faint-hearted.

In flight the pilot will manoeuvre the helicopter in a way that will tilt, descend or pull the stick up fast to make quick yet gut wrenching moves.

All in the name of making this doors off experience one to remember.

Novictor Helicopters offer the attractions you'd expect to see; but the company also offer special late in the evening or sunset tours - for couples or photographic opportunities.

If you plan too visit other Hawaii islands, then consider a Kauai open door helicopter tours made available, or why not try a Maui helicopter tour with doors off.

Open Door tours available

Well all Oahu doors off helicopter tours depart in Honolulu you'll notice most of the tours available to you have a similar theme.

While there are a number open door helicopter ride options; all major Oahu landmarks are within easy reach for all operators.

So what's available to you is this, Magnum Helicopters have only the one helicopter tour for you to take, with a diversion from the original flight route not uncommon.

In many respects, its possible you may experience a Oahu tour that is more unique, with a personal touch thanks to the pilot.

If flying with Mauna Loa Helicopters, then there's three tour options available, if excluding the Proposal Tours which is usually chartered for couples.

Professional photographer's can make the most of there helicopter charter by taking pro-like aerial shots with the companies Oahu Photography Flight.

That is not too say its not possible to take professional photography with all tour flights.

Private helicopter tours over Oahu will take in all sights, well the Magnum P.I. theme trip is not private, but still with an important door seat.

Biggest operator of open doors on Oahu is that of Novictor Helicopters with their seven tour options - plus a private tour if required.

Operator: Package: Min: Price:
Magnum Helicopters The Doors Off Adventure 50 $289.00
Mauna Loa Helicopters The Oahu Experience 60 $320.00
Mauna Loa Helicopters The Oahu Magnum P.I. Experience 50 $279.00
Mauna Loa Helicopters Oahu Pro Photography Flight 60 $350.00
Mauna Loa Helicopters Proposal Tour 60 $400.00
Novictor Helicopters Royal Crown of Oahu 60 $315.00
Novictor Helicopters Isle Sights Unseen 45 $265.00
Novictor Helicopters Path to Pali Passage 30 $215.00
Novictor Helicopters City by the Sea 20 $180.00
Novictor Helicopters Waikiki Sunset 20 $205.00
I creating this table, I have supplied you the name of the company you operator the tour; the package name which is indeed the tour - plus flight duration and cost.

What's to see on Oahu helicopter tours

Oahu's Sacred Falls as seen from Robinson R44 cockpit
Pilot hovers precariously in between the dense canyon's of Oahu's Sacred Falls, with low hanging mist seen closing in on the waterfall.

If you're flying with any of the three open door helicopter tour companies on the island, all flights begin from locations near by.

As you take off from the bases of the helicopter operators; at first you'll take in Keehi Lagoon, with the activity on the airport grounds hard to miss.

If flights head east, expect to see the magnificence of Honolulu with the harbours, parks and beaches coming into sight.

Away from the busy city hub, you'll begin to skim the coast well heading north with a flight that goes onto the beautiful rainforest with a number of reserves seen from the air.

Taking up a quarter of the Oahu is the North Shore, so not hard to missed; so hopefully you get to see the coast, as its breath-taking looking at Oahu from the ocean view.

Now heading south there's more of the west side of the island to see with unique activity taking place before your eyes.

Well approaching Honolulu again, you won't miss a helicopter tour over Pearl Harbor with the Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri seen on the dock.

No helicopter tour is the same with a flight route that is sure to change intentionally due to weather, or expectedly if taking a private charter.

Operators of Open Door tours

Oahu's Magnum Helicopter situated on a dolly, positioned on tarmac
Magnum Helicopter's own Hughes 500 stationary on the tarmac; its sat on a dolly which moves the helicopter out of the hanger, into its lifting off position.

Important as the tour you're taking is reliant on the quality of service by the helicopter operator you will be flying in on your tour.

Of the four Oahu's helicopter tour companies that operate on the island, or The Gathering Place - three will fly open doors.

No big tour company will fly you doors off, so the services are in the hands of the reliable, yet well established Magnum, Novictor and Mauna Loa Helicopters.

Magnum Helicopters

How a Magnum Helicopters tour looks for you is a flight route that is almost the same, that is if the weather doesn't change the flight path.

Magnum Helicopter will take you up in their famous Hughes 500 helicopter that is fast, agile and extremely fun to experience.

Speeds of 180 mph can be reached, but expect Magnum to slow things down to a cruise speed of 155 mph or less, so the 50 minute flight can be savoured.

Passenger comfort is a priority with a 4-seater layout, including the pilot sat on the left.

Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours

If flying with the reliable Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours company, then the level of service is matched to its rival.

You won't be flying in a Hughes here - even for their own Magnum P.I. experience - so its in the hands of the pilot's who will be flying you in a Robinson R44.

It must be said the Robinson is a little more shaky and less stable in the air; but don't let this discourage you as it makes for a thrilling tour.

When using Mauna Lao things will be a little calmer in the air in regards to a reduced cruise speed well touring Oahu.

In the Robinson, its a 3-seater helicopter so this insures everyone gets a door seat.

Novictor Helicopters

Once again a Oahu based helicopter company who will take guests over the island in there pistol powered Robinson R44.

Not much can distinguish Novictor Helicopters from Mauna Loa other than the level of service will be different, but high quality all the same.

If a guest has a little fear of flying, then the option to keep doors on is a possibility.

Big player in the open door helicopter tour service, while the company might actually be the biggest on Hawaii in terms of tour availability.

Novictor operate a cheap to operate helicopter fleet; so guests can expect this cost to be passed down to you.

Located on Daniel K. Inouye International Airport; Novictor Helicopters is wedged in between the Magnum and Mauna Loa Helicopter hanger.

Honolulu departures

How convenient is it for anyone who wishes to take a Oahu doors off helicopter tours when the only three helicopter operators on the island are located near one another.

Saying that, you'll also find Blue Hawaiian near by too.

And when I say Magnum, Novictor and Mauna Loa are near each other; I mean literally the length of a football field separates the three hangers.

The companies departure locations are within the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, with access on foot or car via Lagoon Dr. - running beside the Keehi Lagoon.

Customer parking is made available, however little, on the site of the helicopter tour companies buildings.

Interestingly, well to me anyway, is how Magnum's Hughes 500 helicopters are parked outside the office - whereas a short trip has to be made to reach Novictor and Mauna Loa's helicopters on the airport.

Departing the home base of all operators, it will begin slow with a little caution as you fly out of the busy airport airspace.

Once out of there the helicopter picks up speed with a tour that begins over Honolulu.

Its advisable for passengers to ask in advanced about parking requirements as to not get caught with lack of spaces.

Hughes 500 vs. Robinson R44

If you're as serious about your helicopters then you are with the helicopter tour only, you can be prepared in regards to sturdiness on tour, to pro photographer options.

Of the two types of helicopter models made available for tours, they vary drastically in terms of ability and purpose - though are suited for all tours.

So let's take a more in-depth look at the models available on your tour, along with pro's and con's of each model in use.

Hughes 500, or MD500

In the Hughes 500 operated by Magnum Helicopters; its probably one of the fastest choppers on the island and is sure to be known at some point in your flight.

Its also very agile with the ability to manoeuvre in such a way that is not possible by models of a similar size, or larger helicopters.

If its a thrilling ride you want that makes for a rollercoaster tour, then fly in the Hughes 500. You'll notice the colour scheme of the helicopter replicates that of the TV show starring Tom Selleck - Magnum P.I.

Only its not the original helicopter used in the show, but instead one that is more modern, powerful and safer for Oahu helicopter tours.

Robinson R44

When taking a Oahu helicopter tour, or a tour anywhere in Hawaii in the Robinson R44, know that its the cheapest way how.

Robinson helicopters are among the cheapest helicopters to operate in terms of cost per hours, so its hoped those savings will be passed on to you.

Not always mind as you have to remember, price is based on duration of flights, and what the tour includes.

While the Robinson R44 is operated with Mauna Loa for a private tour in mind; Novictor operate tours open to anyone with up to three seats to be booked per flight.

Safe Doors Off attire

I'm amazed at how non of the open door helicopter tour operators don't make a mention of the clothing passengers should ideally wear for the flight.

So allow me to make sure you get it right as to not risk delaying or canceling your tour.

First thing, be sure to wear what you'll be comfortable wearing in with a seat that allows for your knee's to rise up a little.

Don't wear loose clothing as the open door experience is windy, so fitted or tight clothes will help reduce the likelihood of it blowing around in a distracting way.

Safety is of important so no loose items will be permitted. So that goes for making sure you wear closed-toe, laced shoes - as to never allow them to drop out of the helicopter which is possible with heels or sandals.

Never expect to be allowed to wear loose jewellery so expect that to be removed if so.

In regards to people with long air, make it so its tied back as to keep it out of your face; you'll be spending time taking photographs or seeing sights, so don't let your hair get on the way.

If its a rainy day don't bundle up as it can still get warm, so its recommended you make use of a light rain jacket only.

If you wear prescription glasses try to fix them on with a neck chain or strap.

Pro-photographer's dream

Huge advantage of taking an open door helicopter tour over Oahu is that people who want to take aerial photographs as there best, will do without a doubt.

No reflections on windows or obstacles in your way with doors removed so the opportunity for tourists or professional photographer's must be a priority.

In the Hughes 500 all but the middle front seat passenger will be obstructed somewhat, well a tour in the Robinson helicopter will allow for all photo takers a window seat... or should I say doors off seat.

What you should expect as a photographer is to face your camera out of the opening from the comfort of your seat, well strapped to a fastened seat belt.

People and equipment must remain within the boundaries of the helicopter cab at all times, but its not unusual to see arms, heads or camera lenses protruding out.

If photographing as a lefty or righty matters to you; then know the most natural side you will want to sit on in the helicopter is the left side.

Well the right side can be challenging to operate a DSLR camera in a tighter spot; it will take practice, but you'll soon find a comfortable technique.

If you're in it for the tour only while taking pictures with your camera or mobile; or as a pro taking shots to sell - remember a stabiliser as the helicopter shakes a little.

Minimum age allowed

One more thing that doesn't get mentioned enough is how old do you have to be to fly in a open door helicopter ride in Oahu.

Well I would say the minimum age for a child to travel doors off is 12 years old.

I know for sure in New York, 12 is the minimum age for doors off while a doors on trip will extend to age 0 to 6 years - there's really no definite answer to that.

If you want to bring your child long for a flight, its imperative you contact the helicopter operator in advanced to ask for minimum age allowed.

However, a child could class as a small person, so if flying with a parent or guardian, the child or minimum age policy might not exist.

Its also worth noting kids will probably have to sit in the middle seat as the lightest passenger on board.

Kids might be permitted with Magnum Helicopters; whereas the Mauna Loa's Robinson R44 helicopter can be a little more restricting.

Final word for minimum age, if permitted; children might not be able to operate there own photography equipment or hold any accessories in hand in the duration of the flight.


With up to twelve Oahu doors off helicopter tour packages made available to you, the price for the duration of the flight are similar.

What you will get with your unrestrictive view of the open doors over Oahu are sights that take in Honolulu, Koolau mountains, Ala Moana Beach Park to Waikiki Beach.

Only helicopter tour operators who fly this unique open doors experience are Magnum Helicopters in their Hughes 500, or Novictor or Mauna Loa in their Robinson R44.

Departures lift off from the busy Daniel K. Inouye International Airport with customer parking on site.

If intending to take photo's as an amateur or for professional needs; going doors off is the only way to take pictures like the pro's.

What you wear can make a different to the experience, so dress comfortably with fitted clothing as to avoid them blowing up while causing a nuisance.

No minimum age is stated so expect children under the ages of 12 to not be allowed to fly doors off.

If you want to see Oahu at its finest from the air, there's no other way to see it than with the doors removed.

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