DOINews: NPS: Kalaupapa National Historical Park Focuses on Aviation For Safety Awareness Week

Last edited 09/05/2019

An MH-65C Dolphin helicopter lowers a rescue basket to the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Kittiwake. Photo by T. Scott Williams, NPS.

During national safety month, Kalaupapa National Historical Park hosted an aviation safety awareness week from June 2 to June 6. The week included a variety of trainings and demonstrations by the National Park Service; the U.S. Coast Guard; and Makani Kai Air Charters, a private airline providing service to the park. Events were open to residents, park staff, volunteers, and Hawaii Department of Health employees.

Surrounded by water on three sides and cut off from the rest of the island of Molokai by 2,000 foot sheer cliffs on the fourth, Kalaupapa is remote. Air travel is required for some natural and cultural resource monitoring programs. Many employees choose air travel to their homes in ‘topside' Molokai, or to other islands for leisure, making aviation safety awareness a high priority.

The park conducted B-3 and M-3 helicopter and airplane operations safety trainings for employees and supervisors on June 3. Curriculum included passenger responsibilities, ground and air safety, flight following, agency aviation policy and procedures, personal protective equipment, aircraft capabilities and limitations, procedures for reporting and responding to aviation mishaps, and an overview of critical actions required to increase survivability in the event of an aircraft accident. Participants received certifications at the completion of the trainings.

The following day featured a live offshore boat-to-helicopter rescue demonstration by the USCG. This simulated a victim being airlifted from open water or a vessel, then transported to shore or hospital. An MH-65C Dolphin helicopter hovered above the USCG cutter Kittiwake, lowered a rescue basket to the deck and hoisted it back to the helicopter. Afterward, the audience of 60 was treated to an up-close look at the helicopter at the Kalaupapa Airport. Rear Adm. Meredith Austin, USCG, chief of staff, Coast Guard District 14; Capt. Timothy Gilbride, commanding officer, USCG Air Station Barbers Point; and Commander John Hollingsworth, executive officer, USCG Air Station Barbers Point explained emergency rescue response procedures, capabilities, and safety issues. A video from the exercise is posted on YouTube.

Later in the afternoon, Makani Kai Air Charters pilot Robert “Mac” Smith demonstrated flight safety and emergency procedures for the commercial planes serving Kalaupapa. On Thursday, park staff practiced a water ditching exercise at the community swimming pool in Kaunakakai, Molokai, escaping from a harnessed seat, partially submerged to simulate escape from an ocean emergency landing.

The Department of the Interior joins the National Safety Council in celebrating national safety month as a time to bring attention to key safety issues. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell re-emphasized aviation safety with a video released June 4.

By:Timothy Jordan and Ronald Giblin, NPS

June 20, 2014

A version of this story appears on InsideNPS.

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