Helicopter Tour of Fissure #8 on the Big Island of Hawaii

June 20, 2018

With all the amazing lava activity happening on the Big Island of Hawaii I decided I wanted to take a Helicopter tour of it. By this time I knew I was moving back to the mainland so I saw this as a last treat to myself. How could I leave & NOT get any pics of a lava fissure after living there for over 4 years.

 

When I shot these pics the fissure was pouring out nearly 2 dozen dump trucks of lava a minute. It was a free flowing river of lava. Officials saw lava bergs & huge lava bombs as well were coming from the fissure. 

 

I chose to fly with Paradise Helicopters. They had great reviews & normal price per person is around $350 for the seat i got.)  I chose a windowless copter & got a chair on the edge so I could look out & take pics. This is however very tricky because the pilot wont let you stick anything out the window of the helicopter. For good reason, the winds are super strong. The camera could get ripped off you or it could be thrown back in your face.

 

 

GEAR:  5D Mark IV & EF 70-200 2.8L II IS USM lens

Zoom 200mm

ISO 800
Aperture f/4

Shutter 1/1000

 

The flight was very good for me, I was worried about getting air sick but I was fine. The pilots are very well trained & they do these tours half a dozen times a day at at least. They know what they are doing, you will make it home safe.

The flight time took almost 15 minutes to get to the flow from the Hilo airport. It was nice to sight see from the air. Once we got near the fissure we entered a area looking like Mordor from Lord of the Rings. Others may call it hell on earth. 

 

I was so excited & inspired seeing the flow from this height & angle. With my 70-200 2.8L II IS USM lens I had to lean way back & then squeeze my eye ball to to barely view of the viewfinder, things were moving around to much to sight through the Live View Display. No one said photography was easy, I would rather smash my face against my camera then risk loosing it.

 

 

 

It was aw inspiring to say the least. One of the few times where the video footage undersells the actual event. I was almost 4000 feet in the air & I could feel the heat & smell the sulfur clearly.

 

Legally we could not get any more close to the fissure unfortunately for safety reasons. Why I was glad I brought my 70-200 zoom. People with only their cellphones could not see much.

 

We circled around for a few passes then we followed the lava river to the ocean carving through farms & residents on its way to the coast.

 

Once we went up & down the coast we headed to Rainbow Falls for a quick look.

Honestly they are just padding the tour at that point cause they spend literally 2 mins there then go back to the airport. The tour package was lava & waterfalls but really its just  the lava. Honestly that is all I was hoping to see so that didnt bother me. However if you plan to book a trip with them & you really wanna see the waterfalls then ask a tour that will give you that.

 

As amazing as it is to witness the power & visual display. The destruction is very very real also. Over 1000 structures have been destroyed by this lava flow. While this is a marvel sight for everyone around the world this fissure represent thousands of displaced local Hawaiians with no home & lava covered in fresh lava rock.

 

Here are more pics i shot from the flight.

 

 

 

Photos are available for purchase. Email me at Masonlakephoto@gmail.com

 

 

 

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