In NTSB preliminary report, witness describes seeing a fireball after skydiving plane crash

Updated: Jul. 9, 2019 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A parachute instructor with the company operating a skydiving plane that crashed on the North Shore in June said he saw a fireball erupting immediately after the plane crashed, killing all 11 people on board, according to a preliminary NTSB report released Tuesday.

In the report, the Oahu Parachute Center instructor detailed his observations of the crash, from the moment he observed everyone boarding at Dillingham Airfield to when he saw the plane plummeting to the ground nose-first.

He said the engines sounded normal as he watched the plane taxiing west to the departure end of runway 8. After liftoff, he could see the plane coming into view and heading in his direction. It was at an altitude of between 150 and 200 feet above ground level and appeared to be turning.

“He could see its belly, with the top of the cabin facing the ocean to the north,” the report said. “The airplane then struck the ground in a nose-down attitude, and a fireball erupted.”

[Read more: ‘Devastated’: 11 killed in one of Hawaii’s worst civilian aviation disasters]

[Read more: Family, friends mourn 11 killed in one of Hawaii’s worst civil aviation disasters]

Surveillance video confirmed that the plane was in an inverted 45-degree nose-down attitude.

According to the owner of Oahu Parachute Center, the flight was the fourth of five parachute jump flights scheduled that day. Eleven people were on board, including the pilot, three tandem parachute instructors and their three customers and two camera operators. Two solo jumpers decided to join at the last minute.

No flight plan had been filed, the report said.

The crash — which happened around 6:20 p.m. on June 21 — was considered the nation’s deadliest civilian airplane crash since 2011 and one of the worst in Hawaii history. All individuals on board were killed.

A final NTSB report is usually released 18 to 24 months after an incident.

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