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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Student pilot's death 'shocking'

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

His co-workers were puzzled when Jacob Jacob didn't show up for work Friday at Ala Moana Center's Mai Tai Bar, but few suspected he was the student pilot aboard the Cessna 177B that went down Thursday night off Moloka'i's Kalaupapa peninsula.

"When he didn't call or show up for work I thought that's kind of weird because he'd never do anything like that," Jacob's co-worker and friend, Jason Milan, said yesterday. "Then I heard his plane got stuck in Maui and was being repaired and that's why he didn't come in.

"It wasn't until Saturday that some of the workers told me, 'You heard what happened to Jacob?' that I found out his plane went down," Milan said. "It's shocking; we still can't believe it."

Honolulu-based investigator Nicole Charnon of the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed yesterday that Jacob, who turned 23 on Feb. 5, was the student pilot of the Anderson Aviation Inc. plane that crashed. The flight instructor was Joshua "Josh" Tabisola, 25. Jacob and Tabisola were Waipahu residents.

The Coast Guard suspended its search Saturday after finding no signs of survivors or wreckage.

"He was one of our best workers, reliable and always with a smile on his face," Mai Tai Bar manager Juan Santana said. "It's just shocking."

Milan said his friend was from the Marshall Islands and had a scholarship from Anderson Aviation. Jacob had been a full-time cook at the Mai Tai Bar for almost two years, said Milan.

"He went every day after work to fly and was determined to become a pilot," Milan said. "I know he was studying for a big test for the past month."

Kelly Anderson, owner and president of the flight-training school his late father, Billie Anderson, founded in 1992, said he is planning to send out a couple of planes today to go over the search area again.

"Hopefully if the conditions are good, we'll use a boat on the weekend," Anderson said yesterday. "I thought the Coast Guard gave up searching quickly. We want to do something more. I think we all want to know what happened, to find closure."

George Hanzawa of George's Aviation searched on his own for several hours on Sunday without success.

The National Transportation Safety Board can't open an investigation until wreckage is recovered.

Reach Rod Ohira at rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.