Shortly after moving to Oahu to attend the University of Hawaii, Ben Fouts saw an advertisement for a helicopter school. It only took one introductory class before he was hooked. After starting his training, the business went up for sale. He submit a bid to purchase the company, and didn’t win. Not long after, the school was shut down due to the owners run in with the law. Fouts recalls falling to the ground crying as he walked out of a meeting at the jail with the opportunity to build the business as his own. He relaunched the company as Mauna Loa in 2001 and has been accredited with Better Business Bureau since 2012.
Fouts realized that he had not only entered an industry that he was passionate about, but also one that there was a need for in Hawaii.
“The tour industry is very well developed in Hawaii but there really was no Helicopter Academy.”
The helicopter training includes learning how to maneuver high mountains, ridge lines and valleys, offshore flying, various weather conditions and even how to land in adverse circumstances.
Students of Mauna Loa Helicopters have described the school as organized and reputable. The open-door policy of the school has benefitted the students as well.
“We have a job placement rate right now of 96%”, Fouts explains.
Training to obtain a private or professional helicopter license is a costly journey. Between ground, simulator, in flight training and educational material, the process can cost up to $100,000.
“When people look to invest that kind of money, they’ve got to have something—sort of a guarantee or something, that tells them this business is legitimate, abides by business ethics and the BBB gives us that” he says, “we can show them their investment is secure.”
Along with the success and comfortability of his students, Fouts also aims to hold his company and his employees to a higher standard which translates nicely with his BBB Accreditation.
“Honesty and integrity are just at the core the value of this company – and how I grew up and wanted a business to be.”
Its those values and morals that help make his business successful.
“If you do things the right way and you work hard and you treat people right, good things will come your way.”