5 Questions with Skydive Hawaii President Frank Hinshaw
If you’re going to skydive, why not do it in Hawaii? Or better still, why not do it just three miles from the epic Kuaokala Forest? Thanks to the good people at Skydive Hawaii, you can. Frank Hinshaw has been running Oahu’s Skydive Hawaii since 2003. He and his team run dozens of flights daily with their PT6-powered Cessna Grand Caravan. Against the stunning backdrop of the South Pacific, it’s no wonder. Oahu is as ripe for adventure as it is picturesque. Skydive Hawaii – a loyal PT6A and Caravan customer – recently upgraded their Cessna Caravan 208B with the Blackhawk Modifications XP-42A conversion, meaning more power and a boost to their skydive operation’s performance. We caught up with Frank to discuss aviation, skydiving and the advantage of the PT6. PT6 Nation: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you land in the aviation industry or, more specifically, the adventure tourism industry? Frank Hinshaw: I moved to Honolulu in 1980, and got a stressful job as a condominium association property manager. One of my co-workers suggested that skydiving would be a great way to take my mind off of my job. When I climbed out of an aircraft for the first time, I was completely focused on getting down safely and I didn't think about anything else, including the stress I was dealing with at work. After a few years of sport skydiving, I became involved in teaching skydiving as an instructor. As the skydiving instruction business grew, having dedicated, wholly-owned aircraft became feasible and almost a business requirement. PT6 Nation: Talk us through a typical day of operations at Skydive Hawaii. Frank Hinshaw: Our first shuttle meets customers at 7:00am in Waikiki, and transports some of our clients to the drop zone on the North Shore. The Skydive Hawaii opens its doors at 8:00am, and our pilots have the aircraft ready for our first flight at 9:00am. Our liability release video is shown to customers upon their arrival, and they must execute our liability release agreements. Manifest staff pairs the instructors and camera staff with appropriate customers to aircraft in accordance with both the customer's, instructor's, and pilot's (weight & balance) needs. The skydiving instructors provide a short briefing on equipment, aircraft exit, and what to expect in free fall. During the ride up to altitude, passengers get to take in the beautiful view of the North Shore of Oahu, and then they jump from somewhere around 12,000-14,000ft (20,000ft+ jumps are available upon special request). It's about a minute in free fall and five minutes under canopy before landing in front of our facility. We have specially trained staff who inspect and repack the main canopy of the parachute system under the supervision of our master riggers, and then the process is repeated. We average around 12 flights in our cessna grand caravan and average around 50 first time tandem customers per day -- we are busier on the weekends and have completed around 25 flights and around 150 tandems on extremely busy occasions. PT6 Nation: What does it take to be a successful skydiving company in the South Pacific? Frank Hinshaw: You need to have a good reputation for both safety & excitement. And in all honesty, it's the people who work at the skydiving facility that makes that happen; I am happy to say that Skydive Hawaii has the best people: instructors, riggers, pilots, mechanics, and customer service. PT6 Nation: What is it about the PT6 that fits so well with your operation? Frank Hinshaw: Using reliable equipment is also core to our success as a business. We like to have the best, reliable equipment. The PT6 is a tough & powerful engine. It works in some of the toughest conditions all day here at Skydive Hawaii. It has to deal with climbing up to 14,000ft and descending back down to sea level every 15-20 minutes. It works through multiple starts, and it works in salty air thanks to our proximity to the ocean. The PT6 works for us, and we have put numerous flights, hours, and cycles on our engines. PT6 Nation: Can you think of an example where the PT6 really came through in a challenging moment for your company? Frank Hinshaw: As stated in my previous response, the PT6 is a great engine that works for us in tough conditions all day, and all year long. I think one of the most challenging moments for most pilots that fly here is flying to neighbouring islands. We sometimes fly jump aircraft as far as 200 miles over water to skydive on neighbouring islands, and while some pilots and passengers may be worried that the prop might stop turning mid-way through the flight, I have always felt confident and safe with a PT6 powering my aircraft. Especially since sometimes it’s my son flying the aircraft!