NTSB investigating fatal Hawaii skydivers plane crash
11 people killed in the incident
The engines on a plane full of skydivers sounded normal, according to a witness, but moments later, it crashed just after takeoff from a Hawaii airport, killing all 11 people aboard.
The report does, however, piece together the circumstances surrounding the doomed Oahu Parachute Center (OPC) flight, which struck the ground near Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia before bursting into a fireball.
In addition to the commercial pilot, ten passengers were on board: three tandem parachute instructors and their three customers, two camera operators and two solo jumpers who decided to join the accident flight at the last minute.
The flight was the fourth of five OPC parachute jump flights scheduled for that day.
An OPC parachute instructor who observed the boarding process and watched the airplane taxi west to the departure end of the runway said the engine sound was normal during the ground roll – that it was consistent with engines operating at high power.
When the airplane came into his view as it headed toward him, it was at an altitude of between 150 and 200 ft above ground level and appeared to be turning. He could see its belly, with the top of the cabin facing the ocean to the north.
The airplane then struck the ground in a nose-down attitude, and a fireball erupted – an image captured by a surveillance video camera at the southeast corner of the airport.
The NTSB said a preliminary review of the video data revealed that just before impact, the airplane was in an inverted 45° nose-down attitude.
The debris field was confined to a 75-ft-wide area just inside the airport perimeter fence. The cabin, tail section, and inboard wings were largely consumed by fire, and both wings outboard of the engine nacelle sustained leading edge crush damage and thermal exposure. Both engines came to rest in the center of the debris field, and fragments of the vertical and both horizontal stabilizers were located within the surrounding area.