A closer look at the Cessna 172 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

A closer look at the Cessna 172

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HAWAII (KHNL) - It's Day Three, and still no signs of a single-engine Cessna plane and its crew, missing from the Big Island of Hawaii since Tuesday morning. Veteran pilot Katsuhiro Takahashi and his two passengers - visitors from Japan - took off from Kona airport, but never came back.

Thursday, the Coast Guard, the Hawaii County Fire Department, and volunteers resumed search efforts, but so far, they've come up empty.

Takahashi, 40, is a senior pilot at Island Hoppers, and colleagues praise his credentials.

"He was the chief instructor for their flight school over there and was involved in voluntary FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) safety programs along with one of our instructors here," said Mac Smith, a pilot for 34 years and a veteran flight instructor at Flight School Hawaii. "A person who should be well qualified to handle emergency in the aircraft? I think he'd be one of them."

The U.S. Coast Guard has focused its search efforts on the southwest side of the Big Island, near the Kau Forest Reserve.

Coast Guard officials have not ruled out any specific area, so they continue to search both land and sea. They continued their search the rest of the day until conditions permitted. At least 12 aircraft participated in Thursday's search.

The plane Takahashi piloted was a single-engine Cessna 172. How reliable are those planes? And how well do they respond in emergency situations?

They're very popular in flight school because they're fairly easy to maneuver, and pretty forgiving if you make small mistakes. So flying Cessnas are typically safe if you maintain them, and take the necessary safety measures.

This single-engine Cessna 172 is flight instructor Kim Conrad's lifeline whenever she takes to the sky.

"They're very, very reliable airplanes," said Conrad. "It's a tried and true design. Cessnas have been around for years and years."

And she wants to keep flying them for years. That's why she goes through her pre-flight checks religiously, about 50 items she has to look over before every flight.

"You check the hinges. You check the fuel, make sure you have fuel," said Conrad. "And you strain the fuel to make sure it's not contaminated with dirt or water or anything like that."

But once she's done, she's confident in her abilities and her plane.

"Cessna's like the Toyota Camry of small airplanes, so they're very safe, very reliable airplanes," said Conrad. "And thousands and thousands of people have learned to fly in them."

As she takes off, Conrad constantly monitors the instrument panel, as the plane gets higher and higher.

And in the air, safety is still a top priority, checking altitude and air speed, and scanning to see what else is out there.

Conrad says it's important to stay prepared for any emergencies, things like the engine dying several thousand feet in the air.

"Just because the engine quits, it doesn't mean the wings fall off," she said. "So the airplane's still aerodynamic whether the engine is running. So it pretty much becomes a glider."

Conrad and other flight instructors say it's possible to guide a single-engine plane safely to the ground under the right circumstances.

Katsuhiro Takahashi was flying a similar type of Cessna when he disappeared on Tuesday with two passengers. Many pilots say, if anyone can bring the plane to safety, he can.

To avoid potential problems in the sky, flight instructors rely, again, on those pre-flight checks. If anything is wrong, they say, it's better to fix it on the ground instead of dealing with it in the air.

Job Link 8 Featured Jobs
  • Hawaii News Now headlinesNewsMore>>

  • breaking

    Manhunt underway for suspect accused of fatally shooting Big Island officer

    Manhunt underway for suspect accused of fatally shooting Big Island officer

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 4:25 PM EDT2018-07-18 20:25:44 GMT

    A police investigation on the Big Island on Wednesday morning has shut down a portion of Highway 11 in the Mountain View area.

    More >>

    A police investigation on the Big Island on Wednesday morning has shut down a portion of Highway 11 in the Mountain View area.

    More >>
  • Thai boys recount cave rescue: Voices in dark, then 'hello'

    Thai boys recount cave rescue: Voices in dark, then 'hello'

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 3:11 AM EDT2018-07-18 07:11:51 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 4:23 PM EDT2018-07-18 20:23:34 GMT
    In a press conference on Wednesday after they were released from the hospital, the boys apologized to their parents. (Source: NBT WORLD/CNN)In a press conference on Wednesday after they were released from the hospital, the boys apologized to their parents. (Source: NBT WORLD/CNN)

    Divers found the soccer team 10 days after they were trapped in a flooded cave, and rescuers eventually extracted them over three days, concluding July 10.

    More >>

    Divers found the soccer team 10 days after they were trapped in a flooded cave, and rescuers eventually extracted them over three days, concluding July 10.

    More >>
  • Trump asserts Russia not targeting US, contradicting intel

    Trump asserts Russia not targeting US, contradicting intel

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 12:31 AM EDT2018-07-18 04:31:41 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 4:23 PM EDT2018-07-18 20:23:15 GMT
    (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik). President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he meets with members of Congress in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, July 17, 2018, in Washington. Trump says he meant the opposite when he said in Helsink...(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik). President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he meets with members of Congress in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, July 17, 2018, in Washington. Trump says he meant the opposite when he said in Helsink...

    Rebuked as never before by his own party, including a stern pushback from usually reserved Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the U.S. president sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error.

    More >>

    Rebuked as never before by his own party, including a stern pushback from usually reserved Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the U.S. president sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly