Two men confirmed dead after a single engine Cessna crashes at Dillingham Airfield

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HONOLULU(KHON2)–Tragedy on the North Shore after a deadly plane crash Saturday morning. It happened at Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia.

Two men were killed in the crash, one is 78, the other in his 60’s.

According to Tim Sakahara at the Department of Transportation, the plane took off from Dillingham airfield just after 9:20A.M. Saturday and crashed not long after in an area owned by the US Army, known as boondocks right next to the airfield.

Both men onboard died.

“One of them was deceased on scene. One of them was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The Honolulu medical examiner did release information that he did pass away at the hospital,” Sakahara explained.

A witness said one of the men was getting an aircraft certification.

KHON 2 is withholding their identities until next of kin are notified, but friends of the victims said the man working toward his certification was a former Hawaiian Airlines pilot. His trainer was the squadron commander for the civil air patrol gliders.

“It’s shocking to have another fatal crash so soon after the tragic crash of King air,” said Scott Blackley a pilot and aviation support specialist.

Blackley was referring to a deadly crash that killed 11 people when a skydiving plane went down shortly after take-off at Dillingham airfield in June 2019.

The plane that crashed on Saturday was a 1979 Cessna Ector 305A, also called an L19, used to tow glider planes. Sakahara said it was owned by Honolulu Soaring Club.

“Those L19 Cessnas that they use to tow gliders up are a handful especially if an engine has problems,” Blackley said.

He added that they were doing training drills when they ran into trouble.

“They weren’t towing a glider. They were just doing pilot training– touch and gos. And on the second or third time around on takeoff they turned right out of over the boondocks over there like the tow planes usually do when they’re towing gliders– they turn right…So they were simulating that turning right and one of the witnesses said that the engine had quit because he could hear the engine quit and it lost some altitude,” Blackley explained.

He said that the engine kicked back on but it was too late.

“The angle of attack was severe and it couldn’t fly and stalled and flipped over and nosed into the ground,” Blackley said.

Sakahara said the NTSB and the FAA were notified immediately after the crash and that an NTSB investigator should arrive in Honolulu no later than Sunday to investigate the crash.

According to Sakahara, Dillingham Airfield is closed until further notice due to the crash.

A Cessna 305a is seen in this undated photo. This is the same model that crashed but is not the plane that crashed Saturday morning.

The FAA and NTSB will investigate, with the NTSB taking the lead.

Senator Brian Schatz released a statement today, urging the FAA and HDOT to shutter Dillingham Airfield.

“Our hearts are with those affected by today’s tragic accident. It has become clear that Dillingham Airfield cannot continue to operate safely. Our obligation is to keep people safe, and the only way to do that is to keep the airfield closed. I urge the FAA and HDOT to shut down the airfield until they can guarantee safety of operations at Dillingham.”

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz

It is a discussion that Always Investigating ran a series on–the State’s intent to vacate Dillingham Airfield after leasing the property for nearly 50 years. The matter involves many entities and financial considerations, though Gov. David Ige expressed his desire to find the ‘best way’ to move forward with operations at the airfield. The discussion remains ongoing.

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