Officials: Pilots were on routine monthly training mission when crash happened

Civil Air Patrol plane was conducting monthly tsunami warning practice runs when the crash happened.
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 4:33 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 21, 2022 at 9:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The two men killed in a Cessna plane crash in a remote and mountainous area of Kauai were pilots volunteering with the Hawaii wing of the Civil Air Patrol.

James Degnan, 76, of Princeville and David Parker, 78, of Kapaa were flying a single-engine Cessna on a training flight around Kauai Sunday when the crash happened.

Flight records show the single-engine Cessna took off from the Lihue Airport at 2:30 p.m. on a clockwise path around the island.

Read More: 2 men killed in Cessna plane crash on mountainous Kauai coast identified

The men were taking part in a tsunami warning practice run. Officials said it was a routine monthly exercise.

“It’s the same one we do every month, always a pilot and an observer on board. We fly a specified route at a specified altitude. It’s very normal and typically goes off without a hitch,” said Randy Bolinger, Civil Air Patrol’s chief of marketing and communications.

Lt. Col. Anthony Ferrara from Civil Air Patrol (CAP) said he has known Degnan for almost 20 years.

He was on the same mission over Molokai.

“It’s a big loss, and certainly going to be felt throughout the CAP community,” said Ferrara.

Ferrara said he last worked with Degnan remotely on Sunday.

The two spoke over the phone moments before Ferrara started his own flight.

“I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around you know what went on, what happened, what was he going through?” Ferrara said. “To lose one of our own it’s really hard.”

The National Transportation Safety Board reports the plane went down on the northwest side of the island in a remote area a few thousand feet below the Kalalau lookout.

“There were people who were in the area of the lookout when when they observed a Cessna I guess flying low,” said Kauai Police Asst. Chief, Bryson Ponce. “And somebody heard what sounded like a crash.”

Ponce said the last helicopter crash in the Koke’e area was in 2019 when a Safari Tour copter hit a mountain during poor weather conditions.

“Anytime after 11 a.m. the clouds and the mist start rolling in pretty heavy with the wind,” Ponce explained. “So, naturally even on a regular day, the afternoons after lunch, visibility is usually poor.”

CAP works closely with first responders as an all-volunteer organization that partners with the Air Force for emergency response and other aviation services.

“Our pilots run a broad range of pilots who are private pilots, recreational pilots, retired military pilots, retired airline pilots,” Bolinger said. “We even have some active duty pilots that also volunteer their time with Civil Air Patrol.”

They also offer cadet programs and aerospace education.

“There our partners when it comes to emergency disaster like tsunami warnings of missing persons,” said Ponce. “So you know, those pilots, those volunteers, those kids, this program is a very respected and valued program.”

The factors of the crash are under investigation by the NTSB and FAA.

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