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Kalaupapa National Historical Park hosts Aviation Safety Awareness Week

June 6, 2014

As part of National Safety Month, Kalaupapa National Historical Park in Hawaii hosted an Aviation Safety Awareness week from June 2nd, 2014 – June 6, 2014.  The week included a variety of trainings and demonstrations by the National Park Service (NPS), the US Coast Guard (USCG), and Makani Kai Air Charters, a private airline which services Kalaupapa.  The events were open to all residents, park staff and volunteers, as well as State of Hawaii Department of Health workers.

Kalaupapa NHP is surrounded by water on three sides and cut off from the rest of Molokai island by 2,000 foot sheer cliffs on the fourth.  Due to Kalaupapa’s remoteness, air travel is required for some Natural and Cultural Resource monitoring programs.  As well, many employees choose air travel home to ‘topside’ Molokai, or to other islands for pleasure.

The park held B-3 and M-3 helicopter and airplane operations safety trainings for employees and supervisors onTuesday, June 3rd.  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.

Wednesday, June 4th featured a live offshore boat-to-helicopter rescue demonstration by the USCG.  This simulated a victim being lifted to the helicopter from open water or a vessel, and the helicopter departing the scene to deliver the victim to shore or hopsital.  An MH-65C Dolphin Helicopter hovered above the USCGC Kittiwake, lowered a rescue basket to the boat’s deck and hoisted it back to the helicopter.

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Afterwards, the audience of sixty was treated to an up close static display of the helicopter at the Kalaupapa Airport.

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Rear Admiral 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 the USCG’s emergency rescue response procedures, capabilities, and safety issues.  See a video from the exercise here: http://youtu.be/hd8kVXi_ryQ

Later in the afternoon, Makani Kai Air Charters pilot Robert “Mac” Smith gave a demonstration of flight safety and emergency procedures for the commercial planes serving the Kalaupapa community.

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On Thursday, June 5th, a Water Ditching Exercise was held for park staff at the community swimming pool in Kaunakakai, Molokai.  Participants practiced escaping from a harnessed seat, partially submerged in water to simulate escape from an ocean emergency landing.

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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-emphasizes aviation safety with a video released this week.  Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCRH8MteE50

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