Business Matters: Schuman Aviation

Business Matters

You may not know the company by name but chances are you’ve seen their aircraft either overhead, or on TV shows or movies.

Schuman Aviation is not only a duel threat in the skies, the company has been around since the earliest days of transportation in Hawaii.

With more than 8,000 hours at the controls of a helicopter, and an airplane pilot as well, Richard Schuman loves to fly, but he’s also very grounded.

Especially when it comes to running his company, which plays into both of his passions.

“One is the helicopter tour business that we do tours of Oahu,  and we also have an airplane business that we service the island of Molokai,” says Richard Schuman. 

His helicopters operate under the Magnum name and are best known for having no doors. Which means no barriers to spectacular views. 

Then there’s his Makani Kai airline which is exclusively dedicated to providing service to the Friendly Isle of Molokai.

“For over five years now our motto has been $50 every seat, every flight, every day,” says Schuman. “So no matter, the day before Christmas or Thanksgiving, we do not change our prices”.

Schuman will be the first to admit his business is constantly evolving to keep up with the changing times. But it’s also a business with great history behind it.

In fact the Schuman name has been synonymous with transportation on Oahu since 1880, when Richard’s great grandfather came to Hawaii to sell horses and build carriages.

“Then my grandfather took over and he continued and sold the Model T and the Model A. And my father took over and we ended up at the General Motors dealership”.

You may remember that dealership.

The old Schuman Carriage on Beretania street where Safeway now stands.

It was a dealership known for fancy cars and a classic horse drawn carriage.

“Yeah, it’s been in the family ever since my great grandfather,” said Schuman. “[It] has been passed down from generations.” 

Today the classic carriage sits in the lobby of Schuman’s tour helicopter business off Lagoon Drive.

“Local people come in here they see that carriage and say ‘Hey, I remembered that when I was a little kid,” says Schuman. “And I’m happy to say my sister and my brother and I used to play in this thing when we were little kids and it was an iconic symbol of running down Beretania Street.”

Fast forward to today and Schuman says he’s lucky to have a businesses that is perfectly counterbalanced to roll with a constantly changing economy. 

“Absolutely. My helicopter business is 99.9% tourist driven, airline operations is 99.9% local business. And no matter what the economy is doing, I’m pretty much able to weather the storm.”

Schuman also says secret to success comes right out of his great grandfather, grandfather, and father’s playbooks. 

“Taking care of your employees, suppliers, and customers. And being dependable, and running as honest and integrity business as you possibly can.”

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