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Central // Central Oahu Coverstory
Steve Murray

Magnum Chopper Returns To Hawaii

The only thing missing was an uptight former British military man and a mustachioed heartthrob rocking shorty shorts. Rick was there, T.C. too. So was the Ferrari and the iconic Hughes MD500D helicopter that ferried Thomas Magnum and his ex-military buddies across Oahu for eight seasons.

Larry Manetti (Rick) and Roger E. Mosley (T.C.) spend time with a replica of their ‘Magnum P.I.’ co-star — a Hughes MD500D helicopter. The duo were at Turtle Bay Resort recently for the public unveiling of Paradise Helicopters’ newest aircraft and for a meet-and-greet with fans. Photo by Anthony Consillio, aconsillio@midweek.com.

Paradise Helicopters debuted its newest aircraft June 3 at a meet-and-greet event at Turtle Bay Resort (the company’s Oahu base for 10 years) that featured a refurbished HPD aircraft painted to look like the one in the program, actors Larry Manetti (Rick) and Roger E. Mosley (T.C.), and a Ferrari 308 GTS.

The helicopter was purchased and refurbished by Phoenix HeliParts with the idea to build a Magnum copter. It just needed a partner, and Paradise Helicopters swooped in to take the deal. Judging by the estimated 400-500 people who stopped by to pose with the actors and take photos of the aircraft, it was a sound business decision.

“What continues to surprise me is the emotional response people have to the show,” said Rob Payesko, director of business development for Paradise Helicopters. “It’s not like other shows. When you bring up Magnum, people say, ‘Oh, I remember that car.’ People who are in the aviation business say that was their motivation to get their pilot’s license. Everyone has this cool emotional tie-in to it, and it provides a snapshots of the era.”

Larry Manetti and Roger E. Mosley of ‘Magnum, P.I.’ sign autographs for fans at Turtle Bay Resort. Toni Mosley, Roger’s wife, is in the background. Photo by Anthony Consillio, aconsillio@midweek.com.

According to Tina Cannon, president of Phoenix HeliParts, the helicopter is much more than a look-alike. The aircraft is the same model as the one used in the series but has been completely refurbished with a new airframe, modern avionics and a paint job done by the same company that created the design for the television show. They even obtained the original tail number for the aircraft.

“We wanted to re-create the original aircraft down to the most exacting detail possible,” she said.

The attention to detail was particularly important to the man who flew the original helicopter.

“I’m really proud of what they have done with it. It’s like seeing a member of the family again,” said Mosely, an actor, director and producer who is also a licensed helicopter pilot.

The new helicopter joins Paradise’s fleet of six aircraft located on Oahu and in Kona and Hilo.

Befitting an aircraft used by former Vietnam War veterans in the TV show, a portion of the revenue generated by the chopper will be donated to the Wounded Warriors Program.

“It has always been our belief as a company to share out success within and for the benefit of the community,” said CEO Calvin Dorn, a former Marine.

With a varied cast, fans might never agree on which Magnum P.I. character was best, but Mosley has an opinion. T.C. was the coolest character in the private investigation game.

“Oh, of course,” said the affable actor with a laugh. “The rest of them were just rookies.”

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