Federal investigators on scene of a plane crash that killed 2 in Mokuleia

Published: Feb. 23, 2020 at 4:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Federal investigators with the NTSB arrived at the scene of a double-fatal plane crash on Oahu’s North Shore.

The single-engine aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff at Dillingham Airfield on Saturday morning, killing 2 men who were onboard.

Both federal and local authorities looking into the crash, which happened about 9:20 a.m.

One witness to the crash said he heard the aircraft’s engine “sputter” just before it went down.

“It just took a dive,” he said. “No smoke or anything like that. It was just like metal crunching.”

Multiple units remain on scene at the site of the crash at Dillingham Airfield Saturday.
Multiple units remain on scene at the site of the crash at Dillingham Airfield Saturday.(Ryan Meyer)

An Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman said one of the victims, in his 60s, was pronounced dead at the scene. A 78-year-old man who was critically injured in the crash later died at a hospital.

The identities of the victims have not yet been released.

But news of the crash — and the victims — spread quickly on Oahu’s North Shore and threw the tight-knit general aviation community into mourning.

“These two loved Dillingham Airfield. They loved to fly out of Dillingham Airfield," said state Sen. Gil Riviere, who represents the area. “They did everything out of here and with great heart for this place.”

The state Transportation Department said the airport would be closed indefinitely.

And some, including U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, called for a longer-term or permanent closure to ensure the safety of small aircraft operators and passengers.

Businesses that operate at Dillingham are already facing an uncertain future after the state announced it would end its lease for the airfield this summer and return the property to the Army.

The Cessna that came down Saturday crashed moments after takeoff, coming to rest upside down. The wreckage was located in a grassy area just outside of the boundaries of the airfield on U.S. Army property.

The single-engine craft was owned by Honolulu Soaring, which offers glider tours. The owner told Hawaii News Now the aircraft involved is a tow plane. But at the time of the crash, it didn’t have a glider in tow.

Scott Blackley, owner and manager of North Shore Aviation Services, said the tow planes typically turn right after takeoff from Dillingham to take gliders over the ridge.

Blackley said Saturday’s flight, though, was pilot training.

“The pilot who was doing the checkout was highly experienced in that type of aircraft,” Blackley added.

Riviere remembered the two killed as passionate aviators.

“One of the pilots was instrumental in the air patrol. He taught plenty of people to fly. He was instrumental person in bringing aviation to Hawaii and he used Dillingham Airfield,” he added.

NTSB investigators are expected to arrive Sunday to survey the wreckage.

This is the latest tragedy at the airfield.

Last June, 11 people were killed in the crash of a skydiving plane. Those on board killed in the tragedy included a husband and wife from Colorado; a Kauai native; and others from the Oahu Parachute Center.

This story may be updated.

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