This pilot was at the right place at the right time to see Kilauea’s new eruption unfold

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 3:46 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 1, 2021 at 7:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Matt Mannion has been flying helicopters for over 17 years and knows very well that when it comes to witnessing Kilauea’s magic, it’s all about perfect timing.

When Kilauea’s latest eruption started at Halemaumau Crater on Wednesday afternoon, Mannion was up in the air ― leading a Paradise Helicopters tour.

“I told the people before we left, I said a lot of stuff is gonna have to come together for us to get a view,” Mannion said. “We’re gonna have to have good weather. We’re gonna have to have no flight restriction over the top and be able to fly over the top of it and sure enough, everything worked out.”

Visitors on the tour suspected earlier earthquakes could lead to something, but didn’t expect to have front row seats to Halemaumau’s latest show.

“What was surprising to me is how much lava actually accumulated in about an hour,” Mannion said.

“We’re used to seeing a little bit of a slower flow of lava, but it really started to erupt quickly and it filled the whole crater floor in about an hour or so, which is pretty amazing.”

Shortly after the eruption started, the FAA issued a temporary flight restriction to keep aircraft miles away from the summit.

While he’ll be back up there eventually, Mannion is thankful for being in the right place and the right time for a once-in-a-lifetime view.

“The best part for me is flying people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to see lava in the national park,” Mannion said. “We fly people with mobility issues. We fly people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to those kind of sights and so that’s a big part of it for me.”

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