On Thursday, August 26, 2021, the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) received a 911 call at 7:14 p.m. for lost hikers on the Aihualama Trail in Manoa. Four units, staffed with 12 personnel, responded to the rescue call. The first fire fighters arrived at the Manoa District Park at 7:27 p.m. to secure a landing zone and provide fire protection for Air 3.
Since the 911 caller’s geolocation was more than one half of a mile from the trailhead above the Manoa Falls and visibility was limited due to darkness, Air 3 arrived at the landing zone to pick up rescue specialists and equipment for an aerial search for three 18-year-old hikers, who began hiking at 6 p.m. The inclement weather and the hikers not having any flashlight or signaling devices, to help rescuers locate them, created challenges. Visual contact was made and a rescue specialist was inserted shortly thereafter to make physical contact at 8:52 p.m. The hikers were not injured so rescue specialists quickly packaged the first hiker and Air 3 airlifted him to the landing zone where he was safely reunited with his parents at 9:07 p.m. Due to the worsening inclement weather, Air 3 was not able to continue with airlift extraction operations. Therefore, the rescue specialists escorted the remaining two hikers to the Manoa Falls Trail where they all descended, on foot, in darkness. The two hikers and rescue specialists exited the trail safely at 10:14 p.m. where their parents were waiting. All HFD personnel were accounted for with no reports of injuries.
Hiking Safety Tips:
Start Exiting the Trail Well Before Sunset
Know when the sun will set and allow enough time to exit well before dusk so you can exit safely and, in case of an emergency, allowing rescuers to locate and help you.
Pack Cellphones and Signaling Devices
Bring cellphone with a full battery and a flashlight so you can see the trail, if necessary, which you can also use to signal rescuers in the darkness.