Hovering helicopter confuses drivers, residents during rush hour


An unusual sight above the H-1 Freeway Wednesday afternoon prompted a lot of calls and emails into our newsroom.

Viewers saw a low-flying helicopter and wondered what it was doing.

The helicopter was seen over parts of Makiki and even Papakolea, but its main post was over the H-1 Freeway near Punahou.

It was first spotted at around 4:30 p.m. and lingered in the area for about a half-hour.

Viewers also told us they spotted a helicopter flying over Kalihi during the morning rush hour, and over the Punahou area Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

We found out that the helicopter is contracted by a private company for a traffic study, though we haven’t been able to track down the company to find out more.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation says it is not responsible.

Residents we spoke with say they’ve heard the helicopter over the past several days. Its appearance left them confused, startled, and frustrated.

“It’s kind of, for lack of a better word, noise pollution,” said Makiki resident Shemaur Osby. “I mean, if they’re doing something, they’re doing something, but it would be cool if they would inform the community more about it, so people would know it’s going on, so people won’t freak out, even if they’re just doing something kind of mild-mannered or just making rounds or something.”

We’re told residents can expect to see, and hear, a helicopter hovering again Thursday.

The FAA says the helicopter did not need special permission to fly in the area.

We checked with the company that owns the helicopter, and it says the flight plan was approved.

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