Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N174LL, registered to Yamataka Kumiko and operated by Lani Lea Sky Tours, LLC: Fatal accident occurred December 30, 2016 in Open water, Hawaii



The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii


Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Registered to Yamataka Kumiko and operated by Lani Lea Sky Tours, LLC
http://registry.faa.gov/N174LL


John Mizuno, pilot Michael Childers, his girlfriend Whitney Thomas 


NTSB Identification: WPR17FAMS2
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 30, 2016 in Open water, HI
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N174LL
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 30, 2016, about 1849 Hawaiian standard time, a Cessna 172M, N174LL, impacted water near Molokai Airport (PHMK), Kaunakakai, Hawaii en route to the Honolulu Airport (HNL), Honolulu, Hawaii. Since that time, the private pilot and two passengers have not been located, and the airplane is missing. The airplane disappeared from Air Traffic Control radar after takeoff and is presumed to have crashed in the Pacific Ocean. The airplane was registered to Yamataka Kumiko and operated by Lani Lea Sky Tours, LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight that departed PHMK at 1843.

A representative of the airplane rental facility reported that the pilot had rented one of their airplanes and departed HNL a few hours earlier on a recreational flight to PHMK. At the time of the accident, the flight was returning to HNL. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ATC radar data, shortly after the airplane's departure from PHMK it immediately started a shallow climb to the northwest. At 1848:28, the airplane began a descending right turn from a Mode C reported altitude of approximately 2,525 feet msl. The radar track ended at 1849:04, over open water approximately 1.5 nautical miles (nm) from the coast and about 7 nm northwest of PHMK.

On December 30, at 1913, the FAA issued an alert notice (ALNOT) for the missing airplane after FAA Air Traffic Control (ATC) lost radar contact with the airplane. 

A search and rescue effort, conducted by the United States Coast Guard, began immediately after the missing airplane report was issued, but was subsequently suspended on January 2, 2017. To date, the missing airplane has not been located, and no emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was received during the search and rescue activities. Additionally, attempts to locate a signal from the pilot's cell phone utilizing network-based location analysis were unsuccessful.

The pilot, age 26, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land, which was issued on October 30, 2016. His most recent first-class medical certificate was issued on March 5, 2014, at which time he reported 1 total hour of flight experience. The pilot's FAA application for airman certificate indicated that he had accumulated a total of 73 flight hours, 4 instrument hours, and 14 hours of which were under the category "Night Take-Off/Landing." His personal flight logbook was not recovered. 

According to an employee of the airplane rental facility, who also served as the pilot's flight instructor during his private pilot certificate training, the pilot reserved the accident airplane for the morning of the accident flight. Additionally, he asked if there were any "special instructions" related to the temporary flight restriction (TFR) that was active in the area. The airplane rental facility representative directed him to the instructions provided by the TFR. The following morning, the pilot sent a text message to the rental facility representative to cancel his reservation due to weather conditions, and that he would advise her if he planned to reschedule. At 1340, the pilot rescheduled his reservation to 1700, and requested life vests. After the rental facility representative reported to the pilot that he could use the airplane at approximately 1500, the pilot stated that he would "head right down." At 1515, the pilot and his girlfriend, a passenger on the accident flight, arrived at the rental facility. Again, the pilot requested instructions related to the TFR procedures from the flight school representative. The representative offered some basic requirements of the TFR contained within the NOTAMS including flight plan, radio contact, and the use of transponder codes. He subsequently filed a flight plan over the telephone with a weather briefer. A third passenger then entered the airplane rental facility and the representative retrieved an additional life vest as she was not aware of the additional passenger. At 1545, the pilot completed a preflight inspection of the airplane, and subsequently departed on their flight to PHMK. 

At 1810, the pilot text messaged the airplane rental facility representative to report that they had landed "15 minutes prior." The representative interpreted the message to mean that the pilot had returned as his reservation ended at 1800. After a subsequent text message, the pilot confirmed that he was still at PHMK. She then called the pilot to refer him to a friend of hers who lived in the area that he could stay with if he was not night current. The pilot told her that he would "think about it." After their telephone conversation, the representative received a phone call from a friend who reported that Honolulu Control Facility was looking for N174LL. 

A review of FAA records revealed that the airplane was manufactured in 1973 and registered to the owner on October 21, 2015. The airplane was powered by a Lycoming O-320-E2D, a normally-aspirated, direct drive, air cooled, 150 horsepower engine. The airplane owner reported that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on December 28, 2016, at which time it had accumulated 10,131.5 total flight hours. At the time of the accident, the engine had accrued 815 total flight hours since the airplane's most recent overhaul. The airplane was equipped with a TSO 126 ELT, manufactured by Wulfsberg Electronics.

According to an NTSB weather study, the pilot requested multiple weather briefings from Lockheed Martin Flight Services (LMFS). He initially contacted LMFS at 1617 before he departed HNL for PHMK, but declined to receive adverse weather conditions. During his subsequent call to LMFS at 1708, the briefer discussed an AIRMET Sierra that was valid along his intended route of flight. The pilot contacted LMFS again at 1820 after he arrived at PHMK, at which time the briefer referenced AIRMET Sierra again. Additionally, the pilot received text weather briefing information at 1822 from LMFS that included an AIRMET Sierra that was still valid along his route of flight, METAR information for PHMK and HNL, TAF data for both airports, the area forecast, and winds aloft information. 

An automated surface observing system (ASOS) report at PHMK (elevation 453 feet, 7 miles east-southeast of the airport) was issued 11 minutes before the pilot's departure time. It recorded wind from 010 at 11 knots with 19 knot gusts, 6 miles visibility, light rain, few clouds 900 feet, broken ceiling at 1,600 feet, an overcast ceiling at 5,500 feet, temperature 19°C, dewpoint 18°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.95 inches of mercury. 

At 1854, an ASOS report from PHMK was issued, which recorded wind from 030 at 12 knots with 18 knot gusts, 6 miles visibility, light rain, mist, scattered clouds 900 feet, an overcast ceiling at 1,600 feet, temperature 19°C, dewpoint 18°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.95 inches of mercury.

Two AIRMETs for mountain obscuration that were valid at the time of the accident were issued at 1713 and 1845. The 1713 AIRMET reported mountain obscuration conditions on the north through east side of Molokai Island, and the 1845 AIRMET advised of temporary mountain obscuration above 2,000 feet due to clouds and heavy rain showers on the north through east side of Molokai Island. 

An area forecast issued at 1714, which was valid at the time of the accident, forecasted few clouds above 1,000 feet mean sea level, scattered clouds at 2,000 feet, with a broken to overcast ceiling at 3,000 feet, tops at 10,000 feet, and light rain showers. The forecast reported temporary conditions with broken ceilings at 2,000 feet with tops to 12,000 feet, and visibilities between 3 and 5 miles with moderate rain showers. The area forecast further reported isolated conditions with broken ceilings at 1,500 feet with tops to 15,000 feet, and visibilities below 3 miles in heavy rain showers.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov




NTSB Identification: WPR17FAMS2
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 30, 2016 in Open water, HI
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N174LL
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 30, 2016, about 1849 Hawaiian standard time, a Cessna 172M, N174LL, departed Molokai Airport (MKK), Kaunakakai, Hawaii en route to the Honolulu Airport (HNL), Honolulu, Hawaii. Since that time, the private pilot and two passengers have not been located and the airplane is missing. The airplane disappeared from Air Traffic Control radar after takeoff and is presumed to have crashed in the Pacific Ocean. The airplane was registered to Yamataka Kumiko and operated by Lani Lea Sky Tours, LLC under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight that departed MKK at 1843.

Preliminary Federal Aviation Administration radar data indicated that the airplane departed MKK and immediately started a climb to the west. The airplane entered a descending right turn seconds after it reached a maximum altitude of approximately 2,525 feet at 1848:38. The radar track ended at 1849:09, over open water approximately 7 nautical miles northwest of MKK.

 A search rescue effort began immediately after the missing airplane report was issued, but was subsequently suspended on January 2, 2017. To date, the missing airplane has not been located and an emergency locator signal has not been reported.



A single-engine plane that disappeared off Molokai on Dec. 30 carrying three Oahu residents climbed to about 2,500 feet after takeoff from Molokai Airport and seconds later made a descending right turn over the ocean, according to a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report released Thursday.

“The airplane disappeared from Air Traffic Control radar after takeoff and is presumed to have crashed in the Pacific Ocean,” the report said.

The Cessna 172M was operated by pilot Michael Childers with passengers John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas. The plane departed Molokai Airport in Kaunakakai at about 6:49 p.m., heading to Honolulu International Airport, according to NTSB and U.S. Coast Guard reports.

Preliminary Federal Aviation Administration radar data indicated that the plane immediately climbed to the west and reached a maximum altitude of about 2,525 feet before descending. Radar tracking ended about 8 miles northwest of the airport over open water.

The plane, as well as the pilot and two passengers, who were all in their 20s, remain missing without a trace.

The Cessna was registered to Yamataka Kumiko and operated by Lani Lea Sky Tours LLC as a personal flight, according to the report.

Friends, family and Molokai residents are still searching for the three close friends. Off-duty firefighters and fishermen offered their vessels and have assisted with searches at sea.

Kasandra Vegas of Oahu is still holding out hope that her best friend, Thomas, will be found. She said that a sonar boat is expected to search the ocean floor for signs of the plane.

“She was everyone’s best friend,” Vegas said of Thomas on Friday. “She was loved by all and all loved her back. There is not a single ounce of hatred or anger in her. She is quick to help others and fast to forgive. Her smile and her laughter is contagious, and she will always brighten your day.

“I love her and her family that raised her to become the amazing woman we know.”

Vegas said Childers was talented, kind and loving. She added that he loved music, flying and his girlfriend, Thomas.

“He is the life of the party and brings joy to all those around him,” she said. “They were truly meant for each other.”

The Coast Guard suspended the search for the trio on New Year’s Day after covering nearly 1,500 square miles over three days. The Maui Fire Department continued search efforts for an additional day with dozens of volunteers searching the shoreline and a couple of miles off the coast of Molokai.

Capt. Henry Lindo of the Kaunakakai Fire Station said Friday that he rode on horseback with his father-in-law and another person for 6¢ hours while off duty, covering as much ground as they could in areas west of the airport.

Lindo said volunteers and firefighters thoroughly searched the island for any signs of the plane or its occupants, but found nothing.

“It’s pretty unreal that nobody has found anything,” Lindo said. “I think they did a pretty good search on land that you could rule out that there is anything there.”

Molokai families housed and fed visiting friends and family of the plane’s occupants who had come to the island to assist in the searches, Lindo said. He said many of the stores were closed for the holidays, so residents stepped up to take care of them.

Lindo said he thinks of the three missing people every day and felt compelled to assist searchers. He hopes someone finds at least one piece of evidence that might lead searchers to them.

“I heard the age of the kids, and I knew if I was in the same boat, shucks, I would be looking and using every resource I had,” Lindo said. “I mean dealing with the amount of stuff we deal with in the Fire Department, we want to give the family closure immediately. We knew that if we could find anything, it would help the family heal and grieve.”

Vegas could not stress enough how grateful she and family members are to the Molokai community for assisting with searches and housing.

“I would definitely like to say mahalo to all the families that housed, loved and provided for us while we were on Molokai,” she said.

HONOLULU - It's been 10 days and still no sign of a plane that went missing off Moloka'i's north shore just before New Year's Eve. On Monday, family and friends held a memorial service in honor of the three people aboard the aircraft, presumed to be lost at sea.

The Cessna 172 pilot Michael Childers, his girlfriend Whitney Thomas and close friend John Mizuno were on was last seen on radar on Dec. 30 near Ilio Point.  The incident has taken its toll on loved ones. 
    
"I think we're walking numb. Right now I would say we're doing what we have to do," said Christine Thomas, Whitney's mom. 

Thomas' parents said they're deeply moved by ongoing search efforts put forth by the community on Moloka'i. Hunters, fisherman, complete strangers all pitching in to help. Residents on the Friendly Isle  have even opened up their homes to volunteers flying in from neighbor islands. 

Many expressed to grieving family members why they're lending a hand. 

"Your children are our children. Our children are your children. That's why we work so hard together to find them," Thomas said she was told.

"To look in the eyes of all of these people, it's a warm embrace. Only Hawaii has this spirit," Thomas said.

More help is on the way. Researchers aboard the University of Hawaii ship, Kilomoana volunteered to scan waters off Moloka'i for any sign of wreckage using sonar technology. 

As 'ohana struggle to come to terms with the unthinkable, a yearning to stumble upon something, somewhere continues to grow.     
         
"We don't blame God for this, we're not angry but we can't bring our baby home because we don't have her," said Thomas.

Family set up a search fund to rent drone equipment to cover areas inaccessible on foot.  Click here to go to the GoFundMe page.

Story and video:  http://www.kitv.com

MEDIA RELEASE

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard suspended the active search Sunday at sunset for a possible downed aircraft with three people aboard near Ilio Point, Molokai.

“Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of Michael, Whitney and John,” said Lt. Nic Iannarone, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center command duty officer. “Suspending a search is an incredibly difficult decision to make, especially during the holiday season. Our crews along with Maui County Fire Department and the National Parks Service have completely covered the search areas on ground and sea and have found no trace of the Cessna.”

Responders conducted a total of 29 searches covering 1,473 square miles over a span of three days.

Involved in the search were:

Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews and C-130 Hercules airplane crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
Crews of USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) and USCGC Galveston Island (WBP-1349) from Honolulu
Crews aboard Air and surface assets from Molokai Fire Department and Maui County Fire Department
National Parks Service personnel

At 7 p.m. Friday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received a call from personnel at the Honolulu Control Facility stating a Cessna with three people aboard reportedly disappeared from radar while enroute from Molokai airport to Honolulu.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The U.S. Coast Guard expanded the search Saturday for a plane that went missing off Molokai Friday night.

Three people were on board the flight, which was enroute to Honolulu.

They were identified as pilot Michael Childers and two passengers, Whitney Thomas and John Mizuno -- all Oahu residents.

Authorities said the four-seater Cessna 172 with tail number N174LL disappeared from radar about 7 p.m. Friday, when it was about four miles east of Ilio Point on Molokai.

"I actually texted them last night to see where they were at and if they were going out and no response back," said Elan Cragin, a close friend of the three passengers. "I got news of what happened and tried to call them and all their phones went to voicemail."

That's when Cragin said his heart sank. The four friends were supposed to enjoy a night out on Friday.

Cragin said he didn't know they went to go fly.

"They didn't really tell anybody," he said. "They just kind of went on a whim."

Cragin said Childers received his pilot's license just a few months ago and often rented out a plane to gain more flight time.

"It was a dream come true of his ever since he was a little kid he wanted to become a pilot," said Cragin.

Makani Kai Air pilot Robert Smith was flying from Maui to Molokai Friday night when he heard the emergency call come through the radio.

"The controller said 'radar contact lost stay clear of TFR' and the airplane didn't answer," Smith said.

Smith said several flights into Kalaupapa were canceled due to rough weather and poor visibility.

"It was light rain at the airport, but there were heavier rain showers nearby," he said. "It was not good weather to be flying even in daylight and night time made it even more difficult."

Cragin is hopeful his friends will return home soon.

"All three of them are really strong people, mentally and physically, so they should be OK," said Cragin. "They'll make it. They'll be found."

The search was extended Saturday up to 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point. So far, no signs of the plane have been found.

The Coast Guard deployed a C-130 and a helicopter to search for the plane by air and a Cutter to search by sea. Air crews from Air Station Barbers Point also deployed three self-locating buoys. The Molokai Fire Department and Maui Fire Department also aided in the search.

Rain and gusty winds were hampering search efforts Saturday.

Story and video:   http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com
 
MEDIA RELEASE

The search for a possible downed aircraft with three people aboard near Ilio Point, Molokai, continues Saturday.

The search now extends up to 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point.

Missing are: Michael Childers, pilot, and two passengers John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas. They were flying in a Cessna 172M with tail number N174LL.

Crews currently engaged in the search are:

HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point;

Crew of USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) from Honolulu;

Air and surface assets from Molokai Fire Department and Maui County Fire Department.

Aircrews from Air Station Barbers Point have deployed three self-locating datum marker buoys to aid in the search.

Weather in the area is reported as 23 mph winds with waves at 6 to 8 feet and scattered showers.

At 7 p.m., Friday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received a call from personnel at the Honolulu Control Facility stating a Cessna with three people aboard reportedly disappeared from radar while enroute from Molokai airport to Honolulu.

Story, video and photos:   http://www.hawaii247.com

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