(August 1997)

The best way for foreigners like us to come really close to an active volcano is a helicopter flight. Many companies offer their services, and you probably can chose any of these for nice views. We chose a company that offered a flight at 5.30 p.m., because we thought the pictures would be better during dusk. As we were in Hilo, the flying time to the volcano was shorter and we could spend more time at the important places. Carola on her window seat (read about seating in the helicopter) chose the 50 mm lens to get more of the available light.

After takeoff at Hilo Airport and from a distance of about 20 miles the volcano came into sight at the horizon.

We flew just below the clouds and could see signs of activity at the crater.

The pilot circled around the crater, so that we could have a look inside.

Lava flowed out (at the right side of the picture), moved downwards into the crater, where a lake of lava had formed, and it vanished in tubes on the way to the sea.

Now we took the way down to the sea. On the slope of the Kilauea no glowing lava could be seen because the streams were underneath the surface now. One just could guess where it would flow, covered by a crust that had cooled down. Just at the coast the glowing lava appeared at the surface again. Dozens of small lava streams flowed into the sea water. A white cloud of steam was lighted from the evening sun.


On the way back to Hilo we passed the crater again. The activity had increased during the last few minutes, but the visibility was worse now due to the clouds. The pilot brought us nearer to the crater again, and we could feel the radiation of the heat through the windows. Through the slits around the window came a very strong smell of hydrochloric acid. The pilot could not stay here very long, and we continued our way back to Hilo.


Goodbye with "Hang loose", a hawaiian-style multi-purpose greeting. This time, I had to leave all the pleasure of taking photos to Carola, but we were very pleased with the flight, with our observations and finally with the pictures.