Lana'i plane crash survivor to be interviewed
By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Staff Writer
Federal aviation investigators spent yesterday on Lana'i studying the site of a single-engine plane crash that killed a 23-year-old student pilot, but believe an interview today with the surviving passenger will help determine the cause.
Officials are investigating the crash of a single-engine plane on Lana'i that killed a Kane'ohe man.
His passenger and flight instructor, Matt McGurk, 22, also of O'ahu, remained in fair condition yesterday at the Queen's Medical Center with leg and head injuries.
The Federal Aviation Administration's representative for the Pacific region, Tweet Coleman, said investigators from his agency and the National Transportation Safety Board, along with a representative from the plane's engine manufacturer, inspected the accident site about four miles northwest of Lana'i City yesterday.
The plane is owned by Mueller Aviation on O'ahu.
"We wanted the passenger to get some rest before we interviewed him," Coleman said. "After that, I believe we'll have a much better idea of what happened."
Maui police responding to the 12:15 a.m. accident Friday said the aircraft may have been attempting an emergency landing.
Marks at the crash site suggest the Piper Cherokee touched down once in an open field, bounced, and then crashed and rolled, spinning so it faced in the opposite direction.
Coleman wouldn't speculate on the emergency landing theory, but said the plane appeared to have tipped over on its side after striking a 4- to 5-foot-high dirt berm.
"That's what caused havoc to the craft and caused the landing gear to collapse," he said. "The plane's propeller was also bent back."
Coleman said the pilot had filed a flight plan indicating his intent to fly from Honolulu to Kahului, Maui, departing about 8 p.m. Thursday.