Team Paradise Air
Aloha all! Thanks for taking the time to get to know us….. I was not the kid who jumped off the garage roof into the pool growing up. Quite the contrary, I was the nerd who, at the age of 10, read all THREE books cover-to-cover about hang gliding in the adult section of the public library so I was pretty sure I was an EXPERT on how to assemble and carry out a thorough pre-flight inspection of your standard Rogallo hang glider wing (even though I had never actually SEEN one in person!). I even wrote a school paper on it! Funny thing…. I initially got an F on the paper because my teacher thought I copied it. I went home crying wondering what this big P-word written across my paper meant. She said “You go home and ask your parents what that means!” That’s the day I learned what “plagiarism” means. My mom and dad sure went to bat for me though (as they have my entire life). They went to my teacher and explained my crazy obsession with hang gliding, invited her to ask me ANYTHING from those three books from the public library and WAMMO! An A+ on the paper!
My completely out of-the-blue (pun intended) childhood obsession with hang gliding didn’t turn into a passion for me until 32 years later when, at the encouragement of my then boyfriend and now husband, Tom, I ran off the trainer hill in Santa Barbara, California. By the end of the day I had flown off the top of the trainer hill and the next weekend Tom and I were running off mountains together with nothing but nylon and aluminum keeping us aloft. It was fabulous!
By this point in my life, I had already been skydiving and BASE jumping (my absolute favorite sport in the Universe!) for a number of years, so hang gliding seemed to be just another great way to “borrow altitude”. I had been working as an Emergency Room nurse for 11 years and loving the excitement of the ER. Then, in 2001 Tom and I traveled to Oahu together to shoot a skydiving stunt for the TV show “ER” (oh yeah, we do stuntwork too). While on Oahu, we took a jaunt over to Kauai because Tom said he had a friend who had a powered hang gliding business there and he thought it would be a great thing for us to do the same sort of business on Oahu. I said “GREAT! What’s a powered hang glider?” It didn’t really matter…. it had “hang glider” and “power” in the name so I figured it had to be awesome….. and now…… 15 years later….. Tom and I own and operate one of the most well known and successful powered hang gliding schools in the country.
For many years it was just Tom and me flying. But the phone kept ringing and we got busier and busier. I went to school for my Light Sport Mechanic’s Certificate in 2005 and am proud to be Hawaii’s very first FAA Certified Light Sport Repairman, keeping our fleet of 3 aircraft in tip-top shape for you! Also in 2005 Tom and I added a hangar manager (aka “hangar diva”) to our team to help with the flow of customers on the ground, and then in 2017 Jeni Pfister joined our team as our third pilot. I play as a flight instructor here at Paradise Air (I hate to use the word “work” haha!) and am also the chief mechanic, reservation diva, and email girl. I enjoy getting to know each of our customers directly from the moment you email or call us. Yeah, if you fly with us you’re stuck with me one way or another!
All of us here at Paradise Air really enjoy keeping the “family vibe” going and strive for every single person who walks into our hangar to feel like they’ve made a bunch of new friends here on the island. Welcome to our flying ohana! We are sooooooo looking forward to meeting and flying with y’all!
Growing up in Southern California, I was a very avid surfer, carpenter and amateur photographer. At the age of 26 I made my first skydive which changed my life forever. I made the skydive not because I wanted to jump out of an airplane but because I was assigned to jump out of an airplane as an exercise in a class meant to have you face your fears head-on. I definitely believed I could NOT jump out of an airplane in 1978!
Fast forward to today….. I have over 8000 skydives and have spent the last 40 years filming the most high profile skydiving projects ever brought to TV and theaters. I’ve filmed skydiving scenes for the Patrick Swayze movie Point Break, three different James Bond movies, Hawaii Five-0, Mountain Dew Commercials and many others as well as skydiving into the Olympics and jumping with President George H.W. Bush. My resume can be viewed here on my photography/cinematography web site www.tomsandersaerialfocus.com
Surfing, skydiving, hang-gliding, BASE jumping and photography have consumed my life since my mid-20’s. In 1978 I started a photography business filming student skydivers which gave me the time and money to surf and hang-glide during the week and skydive on the weekends when the parachute center was busier. I combined my passion for photography, skydiving, hang-gliding and BASE jumping and have traveled the world on amazing adventures for high profile clients as well as my own projects. My still images have been published world-wide in magazines such as LIFE, TIME, STERN, National Geography, Outside Magazine, Parachutist, Para-Mag, and many books, calendars and other publications.
In the early 1990’s I released my award winning film “Over The Edge” which won first place in every film festival it which it was entered in and every category it was entered. Later I was awarded the prestigious “Gold Medal For Meritorious Service” from The United States Parachute Association.
I met my wife Denise while filming BASE jumping off a 900 foot bridge in West Virginia. I even asked her to marry me while on top of a cliff next to a beautiful waterfall in Switzerland. After she finally said YES, we BASE jumped off the cliff.
Denise and I moved to Oahu in 2002 with the intent to start a powered hang gliding company like our friends had on Kauai and Maui. Sixteen years and over 16,000 flights later Paradise Air is the Pacific’s only powered hang gliding company operating 3 aircraft and with 3 pilots. I work as an FAA Certified Flight Instructor (over 5300 hours) and keep the aircraft meticulously detailed, looking in tip top shape, while Denise (Hawaii’s very first FAA certified Light Sport Repairman) keeps them purring along.
In 2015 I was inducted into the United States ARMY Golden Knights as an honorary member for my decades of service to them – the premier skydiving team in the World. I have taught the ARMY Parachute Team and the Special Forces Delta Force Team freefall camera skills as well as jumped with these skydivers on major projects such as the Olympic Rings Skydive and President Bush’s skydives.
I have worked as a Screen Actor Guild (SAG) Hollywood stuntman specializing in skydiving, hang-gliding and BASE jumping for over 20 years. My photography/cinematography company Aerial Focus has a perfect safety record and is known world-wide for coordinating very challenging and dangerous aerial stunts for TV, film and commercials where I normally work as both the aerial stunt coordinator and freefall cameraman. This “safety first” attitude has served us well at Paradise Air Hawaii, Inc. We are very proud of our perfect safety record and over 16,000 flights.
Aloha everyone !
I’m Jeni Pfister. I’ve been known to fly just about anything, especially at Dillingham. Gliders, tow plane, caravan; but the powered hang glider is my favorite!!
I have over 4000 hrs instructing in airplanes, almost 7000 total time; and I am one of three female WSC instructors in the country (Denise is #1)
I truly love to teach and can’t wait to teach you my passion of flying like a bird in a powered hang glider!
I was born and raised in Eastern Washington flying with my dad, Steve. Mom, Kathy, and baby brother, Zachy in the backseat of our Cessna 182. Landing on our gravel runway which has since been paved. My dad being a crop duster and now a helicopter pilot has supported my high school dream of being an airline pilot.
In the process of all the training, hard work, and trying to fly with auto pilot I have discovered that teaching stick and rudder is my gift. Since then, I’ve discovered that no rudder and a control bar with an open cockpit is WAY MORE FUN !!
Come have fun while you learn to fly at paradise air !
Mahalo to mom and dad for all your love and support no matter how crazy my dreams are!
My name is Heidi. I found my way to Oahu in 2017 to celebrate my birthday. Immediately, I fell in love with this magical island. I had no idea the place I always dreamed about actually existed. The first locals I met were skydivers and although skydiving was not on my bucket list I found myself the very next day jumping out of an airplane. That skydive changed my life. I experienced something so incredible and knew there was so much more to life. I knew I was home. Three weeks after returning from my vacation, I closed on the sale my house in Roy Utah. I quit my job of 18 1/2 years at the Internal Revenue Service packed up 3 suitcases and left to pursue a life of happiness on the island.
Being born into a military family, I’ve lived in Kentucky, Germany, Louisiana and settled in Utah at the age of five. I am the oldest of four kids and had a pretty great childhood. Whether we were camping, off-road racing or just gathering for family barbecues we always had a great time. In September 1999 I was married and we had two amazingly talented children, Cameron and Kaylen, who bring so much joy to my life. It has been a pleasure to be their mother and watch them grow into respectable young adults.
After living a couple of years on the North Shore I started working for Paradise Air. I had no idea you could actually LOVE your job!! I love meeting new people from all over the world and being a part of their magical experience at Paradise Air.
I have so much fun every day working with Tom, Denise and Jeni! Their love and passion for the sky is contagious and I’m so grateful to them for welcoming me into their sky ohana!
I am Ipo (pronounced EE-pō) and I am your Customer Service Ambassador! I have been with Team Paradise Air since the owners Denise and Tom rescued me as a pup while I was homeless and wandering down a busy street in Haleiwa Town back in 2006. My name, Ipo, is short for Ku’uipo which in Hawaiian means “Shoe Biter” so look out!
(Just kidding….. it actually means “Sweetheart” in Hawaiian – haha! GOTCHA!)
I don’t really like flying much but I LOVE FLY-ERS! I am in charge of the Complaints Department. I lay around all day waiting for a complaint. They never come. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. If you don’t have any complaints, you can just tell me how pretty I am or any secrets you may have. I am a great secret-keeper! If you had to leave your four legged family member at home you can totally love on me and I promise I won’t tell them you were cheating on them while you were here in Hawaii. What happens in Hawaii STAYS in Hawaii!!!
I like to lay on my back and have my tummy rubbed. It’s my favorite position…. ohhhhhhh soooooo commmmmfy! However it seems people like to take pictures of me in this most exposed yet comfortable position and then post them on the internet. (This is why I do not have my own social media page). Anyways, did I mention I like my belly rubbed?
A little side note…. I am getting into my senior years now which means, like most seniors, I don’t put up with nonsense and horseplay. I also am finding that my hearing is not so great, so please do move slowly around me so as not to startle me or I just may live up to the “Shoe Biter” name!
I look forward to meeting you and your ohana and having you rub my belly, shower me with admiration, tell me your secrets, oh, and yeah and you going flying with Denise, Tom, and Jeni.