Robin bought me a helicopter tour of the lava flows for my birthday.  The tour left Hilo Airport and flew down to Pu'u O'o Vent, which is the
presently active vent that is producing the lava that's flowing into the ocean.  We circled the vent several times so everyone could get
pictures, then we flew down to where the lava entered the sea in two places.  We circled those, then headed up over
Royal Gardens to an
area just west of Hilo where there were some waterfalls.  I must say the waterfalls weren't nearly as exciting as the lava.  After that, we
returned to
Hilo Airport and landed.
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE
Here's our bird.  Seats 6 including the
pilot.  I got to ride shotgun!
That's the Pu'u O'o vent where all the present activity is happening.  Kilauea is
over the horizon in the far distance.  The ocean entry point for the lava is off to
the left.
Approaching Pu'u O'o Vent.
Of the original eruption in 1983:  
"It started right on cue, fuming and spattering from vents up rift and down before moving into one, shooting
molten rock high into the night.  The puka
(hole) formed neatly on "o" on the map's "Flow of 1965," so we called it Pu'u O.  It teased us,
intrigued us, enduring beyond reason; it assumed a Hawaiian meaning.  
Pele the goddess pierced and thrusted, spilling lava into Royal
Gardens subdivision.
To take on the mana of naming the new cone, we deferred to the elders of Kalapana to make it their own.  Their stories grew long - as long
as the night.  'Oh-oh, it's getting late - we'd better stop talking and give it a name,' Louis Pau said.  Thus it went from
O to O,o, the stick for
piercing to the one for digging."
Pu'u - Any kind of protuberance, from a pimple to a hill; hill, peak, mound, bulge, heap,quantity, mass, clot, knob, heaped.
Looking left from the vent you can see
the ocean and the steam plumes.
There's another helicopter flying below
us
This is a good overall view of the vent
Looking left to the steam clouds.  The
one we hiked to is on the right
This is a view to the left of the leftmost plume.
 The vegetated patch to the far left middle is
Royal Gardens.  Beyond that is the road we
came in on when we drove the lava field and
hiked to Royal Gardens (
pages 31-32).
Looking back at Pu'u O'o as we fly
toward the ocean entry points
A look to the west at the entry road (far left) to where we parked the car and
walked into the lava field to view the lava flowing into the ocean.
These shots are looking straight down at the lava entry.  This is the one we saw
from the ground on 8/6.  (This was fun tipping the helicopter on its side so we
could get these shots!  As you can see from the picture of the helicopter at the
beginning of the page, there's nothing between you and the ground!)  If you
look really close, you can see the orange glow of the lava.
This is a good look at the "bench" where the
lava is going in.  The bench was formed by
that whole area dropping - suddenly - I would
guess 40 to 60 feet.  That's why they've got
the area roped off (the white specks).The
pictures I took on
8/6 were from behind that
rope.
Looking east at the road into the lava
field at Kalapana.  You can see the
end of the road where we parked to
walked in to Royal Gardens.  In the far
distance someplace is our house.
This is a good view of Royal Gardens (you have to contend with some reflection from the
helicopter's window).  I marked the path we hiked on
7/16.  Make note of the house at the
arrow on the far left.  The arrow second to left marks the brown house we visited.  The arrow
second to the right is the intersection of Orchid and King.  The arrow to the far right marks
the mango tree we took shade under after our hike across the lava.  By the way, our path
across the lava was by no means as straight as that!  You can see
Pu'u O'o in the distance.
This is the house marked by the far left
arrow in the photo above.  It looks
occupied!
Another view of our path of 7/16.  I had to
guess where the starting point was.  I
marked the mango tree (left arrow), the
house in the picture at left (bottom arrow),
and the brown house we visited (right arrow).
Looking over at Pu'u O'o as we head
back toward Hilo
The town of Hilo.  Notice no high-rise buildings.  That's probably because the
town has been wiped out several times by tsunamis.  Notice the breakwater in
the bay.  The airport is on the right.
Hilo Airport
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Photos 2, page 15
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September 2, 2006
Helicopter flight