Pilot of missing plane identified

Katsuhiro Takahashi
Katsuhiro Takahashi
Lt. John Titchen
Lt. John Titchen

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HAWAII ISLAND (KHNL) - Sources tell KHNL News 8 that the pilot of the sightseeing plane that was reported missing Tuesday afternoon is the Chief Instructor at Hawaii Flight Academy.

According to Hawaii Flight Academy's website, Katsuhiro Takahashi is the only pilot in the state who holds the prestigious Master Certified Flight Instructor certificate.

The missing single-engine cessna is operated by Island Hoppers. It left Kona Tuesday morning, but never returned.

The Japanese Consulate in Honolulu says two of the passengers may be Japanese nationals.

The U.S. Coast Guard says the plane was last seen over Kilauea volcano.

A spokesperson for the Coast Guard says it did detect a signal during its search, but it was too weak to pinpoint, and too faint to determine if it came from the plane's Emergency Locating Transmitter, or ELT.

"What we have heard from the Federal Aviation Administration is this particular ELT was not activated so it may not have been turned on. If it is, we're listening and that really is the intent of our searches this afternoon," said Lt. John Titchen, U.S. Coast Guard Spokesperson.

The Coast Guard's helicopter is one of twelve aircraft from various agencies that searched an area five times the size of Oahu.

"There's a lot of area where a plane could be missing and because of the visibility today, we had some problems seeing very closely in that area," said Titchen.

The coast guard says visibility was limited near Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Big Island Civil Defense says searchers will zero in on those trouble spots as soon as weather permits. The Coast Guard says the search for the plane will continue at first light Thursday.