3 former Skydive Kauai pilots had safety concerns about crashed plane

Published: May. 24, 2016 at 9:51 PM HST|Updated: May. 24, 2016 at 10:35 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three former Skydive Kauai pilots said they were concerned about the airworthiness of the plane that crashed Monday just after takeoff, killing all five people on board.

"I didn't feel comfortable flying that plane myself," said one pilot.

Two of the pilots said they quit rather than go up in the 51-year-old plane again. The third said he left Skydive Kauai in 2012 when he asked to see the plane's maintenance logs and was fired.

Hawaii News Now granted the three pilots anonymity.

The pilot who said he was fired said that he had experienced a minor maintenance issue with the airplane and lost oil pressure in the engine.

"Luckily, I was on the ground," he said.

The pilot said Skydive Kauai's owner subsequently refused to show him the maintenance log books for the aircraft. "It kind of made me wonder something was going on with the airplane," he said.

Skydive Kauai owner David Timko, who has headed the company since 2005, said the company has a "perfect safety record."

The plane that crashed Monday had no prior incidents in the last 11 years.

Authorities said the Cessna 182H had just taken off about 9:30 a.m. Monday when it ran into trouble. A witness said he could hear the engine sputtering, and saw the plane beginning to turn back toward the airport when the engines cut out and the aircraft burst into flames.

On board were two brothers from Oklahoma who were to skydive, two tandem skydive instructors, and a pilot.

The NTSB is investigating the crash.

Attorney Rick Fried, who has handled a number of wrongful death lawsuits over plane crashes, said the maintenance records of the aircraft will be a focus of the federal investigation that's now underway.

"With the severity of the incident, I think they'll look at all that very closely, he said.

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