May 2, 2012 - Helicopter

We disembark at Kona, the west side of the big island.
A look back towards the boat gives us an unexpected surprise.

After a long bus ride, we relax for a few minutes at the heliport.

One of those whirly-birds is going to be ours.

That one!
The adults put on their life belts in advance, but for some reason, they thought it wise to keep Ella's off until the last minute.

Bad idea. She cries during the loading process - until they give her a stuffed bear and the engine starts.

Juani and Jill are ready.

Ella's not happy, but she's at least calm and quiet for about 30 minutes.

We're all strapped in and ready.

As we lift off, Ella is mesmorized by the ground going away. She's OK with these for ear protection. She wants nothing to do with the Bose headphones that play music. They're very heavy.

Ella watches lift off with her bear.

The pilot has quite a few things to keep track of.

The girls are excited.

Thumbs up. Everyone's OK.

The first 30 minutes are over desert and scrubland.

We pass by the highest point on Hawaii.

33 minutes into the flight, Ella's cool and enjoying it

She's a bit concerned and keeps looking at me for reassurance, but she hasn't cried since before takeoff.

But now, we're getting close to the volcano.

The gasses from Kiluea's vent rise ominously.

The caldera is bigger than I thought.

As we circle the volcano's most active part, Ella is melting down, but she's tough. She makes it through.

A very alien landscape.

Holes punch through the semi-solid crust, showing molten lava.

There's a good view - straight down into the magma chamber.

It's hot just looking at it.

Over the lava-ridden coast.
That's where we were yesterday watching the waves on the jagged, black volcanic rock.

Well, not there, but somewhere around there.
So, we have a 50-minute flight, of which Ella cried the last third, but she liked the first 2/3.
We have to take the helicopter back, so we'll see how that goes...
The rest of us love it!