Hawaii tour copter with 7 aboard is missing, search underway

HONOLULU (AP) — A tour helicopter with seven people aboard disappeared in Hawaii, and a search was underway in weather conditions described as challenging, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The owner of the helicopter contacted the Coast Guard about 45 minutes after the aircraft was due back from a tour of Kauai's Na Pali Coast on Thursday evening, a Coast Guard statement said.

The Eurocopter AS350 helicopter took off from the town of Lihue, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said Friday.

The helicopter has an electronic locator, but no signals had been received, according to the Coast Guard.

The helicopter was carrying a pilot and six passengers, two of whom were believed to be minors, the Coast Guard said.

“The weather conditions are challenging," said Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. "We have trained crews responding and on scene searching for any signs of the helicopter and those aboard.”

According to the Coast Guard statement, clouds and rain at the scene rendered visibility at 4 miles (6.4 kilometers), with winds at 28 mph (45 kph). Friday's forecast predicted winds were at about 23 mph (37 kph).

A helicopter and crew was launched from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, and additional support was provided by the U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 at Kaneohe Bay. A Coast Guard cutter and crew were also launched from Honolulu.

Further searches with a search-and-rescue airplane and crew and fresh helicopter crew were scheduled for first light, if necessary.

According to the release, helicopter tours are common above the island of Kauai, much of which is a state park.

21 PHOTOS
Vintage photos of Hawaii pre-statehood
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Vintage photos of Hawaii pre-statehood
UNSPECIFIED - MAY 03: The Royal Palace Honolulu al Sandwich Islands photo by John Lawson Stoddard (1850 1931) Voyageur and conferencier publication Education for Chicago (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Waikiki, HI: Boys surfing at Waikiki, Hawaii. Undated photograph.
Natives dancing the hula. (Photo by Eliot Elisofon/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
A pineapple worker picking pineapples from the plantation. (Photo by William C. Shrout/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Waikiki Beach w. Diamond Head in rear as seen from across the bay at the Royal Hawaiian. (Photo by William C. Shrout/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Two couples, one in tails, dance on the beach in the early morning to the sounds of a ukelele, Hawaii circa 1920. (Photo by Pam Beauchamp/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Waikiki beach on Oahu, with Diamond Head in the background, Honolulu, Hawaii, circa 1925. (Photo by Underwood & Underwood/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
A native Hawaiian dancer performing while other women keep rhythm with gourds, Hawaii, circa 1924. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
A surfer at Waikiki Beach stands on his head as he rides a wave into the shore, Honolulu, Hawaii, circa 1925. Diamond Head is in the background. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Four Japanee tourists pose at the Halekulani Hotel on Waikiki Beach with a native Hawaiian and his long surfboard, Honolulu, Hawaii, circa 1930. (Photo by Tai Sing Loo/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
circa 1930: Tourists peer into the mouth of Halemaumau, which means 'House of Everlasting Fire', the inner crater of Kilauea. Situated on the slopes of Mauna Loa on central Hawaii Island, Kilauea is the most active volcano in the world. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
15th January 1932: A group of Hawaiian girls sitting against a tropical background. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 1932-Honolulu, Hawaii- Aerial photo of Waikiki Beach, taken from a Navy seaplane. The Manao Hotel is in the center.
Hawaiian swimming stars Duke Kahanamoku (left) and his younger brother Sam at a break during the tryouts at the Olympic Pool in Long Beach for the 1924 Summer Olympics, Long Beach, California, June 15, 1924. Duke won the 100meter freestyle gold at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Staff members of the Pan American Airways base here have created a full size golf course in the island sands, Midway Island, Pacific Ocean, October 15, 1936. The two members here are playing through the local hazard, albatross, otherwise known as gooney birds. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Gov. of Hawaii Samuel Wilder King and his wife walking in the street with many petitioners regarding the issue of statehood. (Photo by George Silk/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
A view of Honolulu from Punch Bowl crater, showing a portion of the US Navy fleet in Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 29, 1940. The Army and Navy are rushing work on 17 air bases in the Hawaiian area. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Housing on hillsides of Honolulu. (Photo by George Silk/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
A Hawaiian woman dances on a grass mat while two other women watch, Hawaii, circa 1900. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Pineapple Field on Plantation (Photo by � Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
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