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The following story appeared in the 1996 issue of The Maui Inc. Annual Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
David and Patti Chevalier don’t appear to be Hawaiian, but in their hearts, the spirit of aloha lives.
Hailing from Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Chevaliers moved to Maui in 1984 and took to the concept of aloha like they had been born to it.
“I feel that those of us in the tourism industry have a moral obligation to teach people about Hawaiian culture and history,” Patti said. “It is a matter of respect and a way of giving back of what we have been given here.”
Teaching comes easy to Patti, who is a former St. Anthony High School social studies teacher. Now she and her husband own Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. David has been flying helicopters since the Viet Nam war, and has flown helicopters around the globe including during the Iranian Revolution (for Bell Helicopters), in Central America and all over the U.S. Mainland.
When the couple started their business a decade ago, they already had strong feelings about their role in education their passengers about Hawaii and Hawaiiana. But after they meet George Kanahele (see page 106), they worked with him to put that commitment into their company’s mission statement.
“Ninety percent of our passengers have never been in a helicopter before,” David said. “We go to remote areas and scenic spots, and they want to know the history of the area, the plants there, everything about it.”
The Chevaliers have a training program for all their helicopter tour pilots so that the information they give to the passengers is accurate. In addition they have an extensive library on Hawaiian history, culture, language, wildlife and geology.
George Kanahele has called their air tours “flying classrooms.”
As the vice-president of Maui’s Activity Owners Association (AOA), Patti has continued her emphasis on education.
“The spirit of aloha is the reason people come here,” she said. “Not only do we need to teach about Hawaii and it’s culture, we need to live the spirit of aloha. Otherwise we are just like any other beautiful place with sun and a beach. What we have is unique, I want to preserve it.”
The Chevaliers look at their daughter, Malia, and wonder about Maui’s future.
“Now’s the time to wake up to the possibility that we hold the key to the quality of life,” Patti Said. “We like to see a balance between Maui’s visitor industry and maintaining the quality of life. With respect for each other we can achieve that balance.”
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