By Lauren LaDoux, Maui Sales Director
Have you ever met someone that inspired you to follow your dreams? Or in my case, conquer my fears? That was my experience with Eric Brill.
Eric is the Owner and Captain of Maui Plane Rides. I am a land hugging Maui resident, fearful of heights and flying. Or at least, I thought I was, until Eric convinced me to see my beloved Maui from the air.
Eric made his way to Maui after years of piloting commercial aircraft across the globe, beginning in Hawai‘i and continuing in far-flung places like the Maldives, India, Guyana and South America. “I was in law school when I changed course completely,” he explains. “I realized what made me happy was flying, so I quit law school and pursued my career as a pilot.”
Flying in exotic locales provided the seed for Maui Plane Rides. From his various perches across the world, Eric kept an eye out for an airplane to purchase, and in 2015 he seized on an opportunity. “I wanted to show people the beauty of Maui from the air,” Eric says. “So many of the most beautiful parts of the island are only accessible by air. It’s an awesome feeling to be the person that gets to share the experience of a lifetime with so many visitors.”
That turns out to be an understatement, if that’s even possible. I have never experienced something as beautiful or majestic in my entire life.
Eric greeted my husband Matt and I at the front gate with a lei and a hearty aloha, then walked us over to his plane. He takes great pride in making the experience as intimate, interactive and educational as possible. There are no big waiting rooms, no large crowds—just you, your party and Eric.
We were flying along the coast of Wailuku, learning about the great warriors who jumped off cliffs to prove their bravery, before I realized I had not even considered fear. I was too busy taking in the giant, breathtaking cliffs. We flew across the Nakalele Blowhole and over Honolua Bay, through the West Maui Mountains and across the ocean. Matt and I watched the sunset over the island and drank champagne while Eric expertly glided above breaching whales. After making a wide, sweeping turn over Molokini, we safely landed back at Kahului Airport Fire Station. I thought I couldn’t love Maui any more than I already do, but Maui Plane Rides proved me wrong.
Matt and I did the Sunset Champagne Tour but there are many other tours available such as Haleakala’s Summit Crater or the ‘hands-on’ flights by Moloka‘i’s Sea-Cliffs, or even custom flights. Eric has earned a 100% five-star review across the board. He offers the most affordable aerial tours on Maui while being the only aircraft with non-tinted windows for crystal clear clarity. Whether you’re visiting or a resident, you need to fly with Eric and Maui Plane Rides. You might even conquer a fear or two along the way. Or, like me, forget you had them.
[This article will appear in the upcoming April-June edition of This Week Maui]