Saturday, June 22, 2019

Beechcraft A90 King Air, N256TA: Fatal accident occurred June 21, 2019 near Dillingham Airfield (PHDH), Mokuleia, Hawaii

National Transportation Safety Board seeks flight instructor monitoring after deadly crash

Federal safety investigators said today that the pilot of a skydiving plane that crashed in 2019 on the North Shore, killing all 11 people on board, had not received training to become a competent pilot.

The National Transportation Safety Board, in response to these findings, called on the Federal Aviation Administration to better monitor the effectiveness of flight instructors.

The plane banked sharply before plunging to the ground shortly after takeoff from Dillingham Airfield on June 21, 2019. Pilot Jerome Renck and his 10 passengers were killed in the deadliest civil aviation accident in the U.S. since 2011.

Renck had failed three initial flight tests in his attempt to obtain a pilot certificate, instrument rating and commercial pilot certificate, the NTSB said. The pass rate for other students taught by the same instructor was just 59% over a two-year period ending in April 2020. The average pass rate for students of all flight instructors is 80%, the agency said.

The board called on the FAA to develop a system to automatically alert its inspectors to flight instructors whose students’ pass rates fall below 80%

The board quoted from the FAA’s Aviation Instructor’s Handbook, which says the goal of instructors is “‘to teach each learner in such a way that he or she will be come a competent pilot.’” In Renck’s case “the flight instructor did not achieve that goal,” the NTSB said.

The FAA said in a statement it is working closely with the NTSB to investigate the crash.

“The agency takes NTSB findings and recommendations very seriously. The FAA will carefully evaluate and consider all findings and recommendations the NTSB issues as a result of this investigation,” it said.

Documents that the board released in October painted a picture of a pilot who took unnecessary risks and pushed the limits of his skills to give passengers a thrilling ride.

The plane was operated by Oahu Parachute Center, which lacked permits for skydiving flights, according to state records. The owner, George Rivera, received a permit in 2010 under a different company name for parachute repairs and rigging but not skydiving.

Renck, a French national, was the company’s only pilot at the time of the crash.

The plane had undergone repairs after a crash in 2016 in California badly damaged the tail section. In that incident, skydivers struggled to jump out as the plane went into a spinning dive.

The NTSB previously said FAA records showed that Robert Seladis, a contract mechanic who worked on the plane, had his certificate revoked in 2005 after falsifying records on two planes. He regained his certificate in 2015.

Seladis was interviewed a few days after the crash, then stopped talking to investigators, who were unable to get the plane’s logbooks from him, the NTSB said.

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration AVP-100; Washington, District of Columbia
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii
Transportation Safety Board of Canada; Ottawa, FN
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Mokuleia, HI 
Accident Number: WPR19MA177
Date & Time: 06/21/2019, 1822 HST
Registration: N256TA
Aircraft: Beech 65A90
Injuries: 11 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Skydiving 

On June 21, 2019, at 1822 Hawaii-Aleutian standard time, a Beech 65-A90, N256TA, collided with terrain after takeoff from Dillingham Airfield (HDH), Mokuleia, Hawaii. The commercial pilot and ten passengers sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was owned by N80896 LLC, and was being operated by Oahu Parachute Center (OPC) under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a local sky-diving flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

According to the owner of OPC, the accident flight was the fourth of five parachute jump flights scheduled for that day. Two flights took place between 0900 and 0930 and the third departed about 1730 on the first of what OPC called, "sunset" flights. The occupants on the accident flight included the pilot, three tandem parachute instructors and their three customers, and two camera operators; two solo jumpers decided to join the accident flight at the last minute.

The passengers were loaded onto the airplane while it was on the taxiway next to the OPC facility on the southeast side of the airport. A parachute instructor at OPC observed the boarding process and watched as the airplane taxied west to the departure end of runway 8. He could hear the engines during the initial ground roll and stated that the sound was normal, consistent with the 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.

The final second of the accident sequence was captured in the top left frame of a surveillance video camera located at the southeast corner of the airport. Preliminary review of the video data revealed that just before impact the airplane was in an inverted 45° nose-down attitude.

Runway 8/26 at Dillingham Airfield is a 9,007-ft-long by 75-ft-wide asphalt runway, with displaced thresholds of 1,993 ft and 1,995 ft, respectively. A parachute landing area was located beyond the departure end of runway 8, and the standard takeoff procedure required a left turn over the adjacent beach to avoid that landing zone. The displaced threshold areas had been designated for sailplane and towplane use, with powered aircraft advised to maintain close base leg turns to assure separation.

The airplane came to rest inverted on a heading of about 011° magnetic, 500 ft north of the runway centerline, and 5,550 ft beyond the runway 8 numbers, where the takeoff roll began. 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.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N256TA
Model/Series: 65A90
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Oahu Parachute Center
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PHHI, 840 ft msl
Observation Time: 0456 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 5000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 180°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 7000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Mokuleia, HI (HDH)
Destination: Mokuleia, HI (HDH)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 10 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 11 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 21.580556, -158.188333

HONOLULU — The Hawaii skydiving company that was operating a plane that crashed and killed 11 people last month did not have the proper permits, according to documents released by the state Wednesday.

The documents show Oahu Parachute Center was “not in good standing” with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs as of April. It was also not a registered tenant for the state land it occupied at the airport.

The owner, George Rivera, was granted a permit in 2010 for a company under a different name — Hawaii Parachute Center — that allowed parachute repairs and rigging, but not skydiving operations.

State business records show Oahu Parachute Center was established in 2017, but the state never granted the company a permit to give skydiving tours.

Two years later, on April 16, the Department of Transportation Airports Division sent Rivera a cease and desist letter giving him until May 15 to produce tax and other business documents.

Then, on June 5 — two weeks before the crash — officials sent a permit application for skydiving operations to Rivera.

The application gave him 30 days to produce documents including tax clearance certificates for both the county and the state, a certificate of good standing from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, a certificate of registration and proof of ownership for the plane, the aircraft’s log books and inspection records, a certification of airworthiness and proof of insurance.

It also required payment of nearly $30,000 for a security deposit and rent for the space the company was using on state airport land.

Rivera did not submit the permitting documents before the plane rolled upside down and crashed shortly after takeoff on June 21. All 11 people on board were killed in what became the deadliest civil aviation crash in the U.S. since 2011.

Five days after the crash the state revoked the 2010 permit and evicted the company from its space at the airport, citing violations.

The June 26 notice said the owner failed to obtain state approval to operate as a skydiving company and that it did not register the plane that crashed.

The 2010 permit was issued “for the purpose of Parachute Loft with the understanding that (Hawaii Parachute Center) was conducting activities at the airport as a parachute rigger,” the letter said.

It is not clear why the company was allowed to take customers skydiving without the required permits. A request for further information from the Department of Transportation was denied. Attempts to contact George Rivera were unsuccessful.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane was operated by Oahu Parachute Center but was owned by N80896 LLC, a California company.

The president of that company, William Garcia, confirmed to The Associated Press that he was the registered owner of the aircraft. His company also owned the airplane when it was in another skydiving accident in California in 2016. The aircraft sustained significant damage, but was repaired and sent to Oahu to be flown again.

In its preliminary report released Tuesday, the NTSB said two skydivers made a last-minute decision to board the plane just before it crashed.

The NTSB did not provide a cause for the crash, which is typical for preliminary reports.

The report also said a witness to the crash reported the plane’s engines sounded normal before takeoff, but shortly after it left the ground the aircraft became inverted and crashed nose down.

The witness, who was a parachute instructor for Oahu Parachute Center, was not named.

The final seconds of the flight were captured by airport surveillance video. An NTSB spokesman said the footage could not be immediately released.

The doomed flight was the fourth of five scheduled skydiving trips for that day.

Registered Owner N80896 LLC: Beechcraft A90 King Air, N256TA, fatal accident occurred June 21, 2019 near Dillingham Airfield (PHDH), Mokuleia, Hawaii -and- accident occurred July 23, 2016 near Byron Airport (C83), Contra Costa County, California • Cessna P206D Super Skylane, N8751Z, incident occurred December 18, 2016 in Lincoln, Placer County, California

National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy put the Federal Aviation Administration “on notice” over skydiving flight regulations during a media briefing on June 24th at the Ala Moana Hotel. 

In the wake of Friday’s deadly skydiving crash in Mokuleia — the worst U.S. civil aviation accident since 2011 — transportation safety leaders are renewing their call from over a decade ago to impose stricter rules on such flights.

The National Transportation Safety Board first raised concerns about inadequate maintenance, pilot training and federal inspections for skydiving flights in 2008 when they issued a series of safety recommendations in a special investigative report.

Despite those efforts, the Federal Aviation Administration has kept skydiving flights under its weakest-possible set of regulations, NTSB officials said during a press conference Monday. They sought to put pressure on the FAA while also giving an update on the early steps of the crash investigation.

“Are we trying to put the FAA on notice on this? Yes,” NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy told the media gathered in a conference room at the Ala Moana Hotel.

“There is an inherent risk to skydiving.   But paying passengers should be able to count on an airworthy plan, an adequately trained pilot, a safe operator and adequate federal oversight of those operations,” Homendy said.

Since making its recommendations in 2008, the NTSB has recorded an additional 81 skydiving flight accidents and 30 deaths across the U.S. — including the 11 people who perished when a twin engine Beechcraft King Air plane operated by Oahu Parachute Company crashed moments after takeoff Friday at Dillingham Airfield on Oahu’s North Shore.

To be sure, it’s not clear if maintenance, pilot error or oversight issues previously flagged by NTSB were at all factors in this latest skydiving crash.

NTSB investigators have just started to examine the wreckage and records at hand. Their final conclusions likely won’t be released for another 18 to 24 months.

Nonetheless, Homendy said that NTSB officials would keep in mind the “differences” between how skydiving flights are regulated versus other air tour operations as the investigation moves forward.

“The NTSB has called on the FAA to improve the safety of parachute jump operations,” she said. “Some of those recommendations, specifically with respect to training, maintenance of aircraft and FAA oversight have not been acted on by the FAA.”

Specifically, Homendy and other NTSB officials on hand Monday said that skydiving flights should be covered under the more stringent Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 along with most other air tour operations with paying passengers.

But skydiving flights are exempted from those rules, they said. Instead, they’re covered under the more lax Part 91. As such, they’re not held to the same stringent maintenance or pilot-training requirements.

“Because they operate under Part 91, parachute jump operators are also not subject to the federal regulations that require compliance with manufacturers’ recommended maintenance instructions,” such as service bulletins and time between engine overhauls, the NTSB stated in its 2008 report.

Aircraft covered under Part 91 must only comply with general airworthiness directives, Homendy said Monday.

FAA Considers Its Response Complete

In a statement Monday, FAA officials said they take the NTSB skydiving flight recommendations “very seriously.”

“The FAA required its safety inspectors to conduct increased surveillance of parachute operations, revised the safety guidance we issued to parachute operators, and increased our safety outreach to the parachuting community,” the statement read.

Still, those limited surveillance requirements, along with more guidance and outreach instead of more stringent requirements on maintenance and pilot-training specifically tailored to the unique rigors of skydiving flights, irked the NTSB, which classified many of the FAA’s responses to its recommendations as “unacceptable.”

In its 2008 report, the NTSB found that “maintenance is especially critical for parachute operations aircraft” because of their heavy use and “periods of climb power followed by sudden reductions in power to descend, which can be particularly conducive to engine wear.” Skydiving pilots similarly have to deal with a variety of mid-flight conditions but don’t have to take any special training, it added.

In the years that followed that report, the FAA pushed back against making most of the NTSB recommendations outright requirements. Instead, it largely responded by teaming with the nation’s main skydiving association on more safety outreach to its members, a record of correspondence shows.

The FAA and United States Parachuting Association “believe that the current regulatory requirements for maintenance are adequate but must be better communicated and disseminated,” an FAA official wrote to the NTSB in June 2010.

“USPA took an active role in educating owners of jump plane aircraft, pilots, parachutists, and skydiving drop zone operators (DZO) using the association’s monthly magazine,” it added.

Finally, the FAA official’s memo to NTSB concluded:

“Although not mandatory, the FAA and USPA recommend that owners/operators review the manufacturer’s maintenance manual or any other manufacturer’s recommended information and incorporate appropriate actions. I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.”

NTSB disagreed.

“We remain concerned that operators of aircraft used in parachute jump operations are not required to develop and implement FAA-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs,” the safety board told the FAA in June 2012.

The two agencies had similar conflicts over pilot training regulations.

Investigation Continues

Meanwhile, NTSB investigators plan to be at the crash site for the next few days collecting evidence before moving the wreckage to a secure location.

They’ll interview crash witnesses, employees and independent contractors, as well as investigate the plane’s airworthiness, engine and operations, Homendy said Monday.

They’ll also seek technical information from the plane’s manufacturer, Textron Aviation and the engine’s manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney — as well as the FAA, she added.

Homendy asked the public to send any photos or videos from the past two years of the Beechcraft plane, specifically front and rear views of the craft to the email address  The plane’s tail number is N256TA.

The 2008 NTSA special investigation into skydiving was spurred by 32 skydiving aircraft accidents having killed 172 people between 1980 and the time of publication.

Among them was a December 1981 crash of a plane into Pearl Harbor that, as Hawaii News Now reports, carried skydivers planning to jump into Aloha Stadium. Eleven people were killed and a twelfth passenger survived.

Additionally, NTSB’s online database lists two other fatal accidents out of Dillingham Airfield in the past three decades:

In 1991 a reserve parachute accidentally deployed prematurely, sucking a skydiver forward out of the Cessna 182 and causing him to strike his head on the wing, according to an agency report. The Cessna then rolled in the air and the other skydivers safely jumped out before the pilot regained control. The first jumper who struck his head was later found dead, the report stated.

In 1999, a Beechcraft B90 crashed nose-first into the ocean on its last flight of the day — after sunset and after all skydivers aboard had jumped out, according to the NTSB report. The board determined hypoxia in the pilot — where lack of oxygen to the brain leads to slow reflexes, poor judgement and sometimes complete incapacitation — to be the probable cause of that crash.

In 2016, a pilot and four skydivers were killed in Hanapepe on Kauai when their Cessna 182 crashed about 30 seconds after takeoff. The NTSB determined the pilot’s failure to maintain speed after partial engine failure to have caused that crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

Lt. Joshua Drablos

The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office today released the names of seven of the victims of Friday’s skydiving plane that crashed at Dillingham Airfield, killing all 11 aboard.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are in town investigating the incident, which they called the deadliest civilian aircraft accident in the U.S. since a 2011 Reno Air Show crash that killed the pilot and 10 spectators. NTSB investigators said the plane apparently flipped and burned shortly after takeoff.

The names released today are:

>> Joshua Drablos, 27, U.S. military member stationed in Hawaii, Virginia resident

>> Nikolas Glebov, 28, St. Paul, Minnesota

>> Daniel Herndon, 35, Hawaii resident

>> Michael Martin, 32, Hawaii resident

>> Jordan Tehero, 23, Hawaii resident

>> Ashley Weikel, 26, Colorado Springs, Colorado

>> Bryan Weikel, 27, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Happy and his staff plan to release the identities of the four remaining victims once they have been confirmed. There were 10 men and one woman among the victims.

Friends and family members earlier confirmed to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that Larry Lemaster and Casey Williamson, who along with Martin appeared to be employed by Oahu Parachute Center, were among the victims.

Bryan and Ashley Weikel

A Colorado Springs couple who were celebrating their first anniversary on Oahu were among the 11 killed in the crash, according to a Colorado newspaper.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported today that it was the first skydiving adventure for Bryan and Ashley Weikel.

The newspaper reported that family members had not been officially notified as of this Monday morning but concluded that the couple was among the victims based on social media posts from Ashley Weikel, who had posted pictures of them boarding the skydiving plane on Friday.

A makeshift memorial at Dillingham Airfield continues to grow today as mourners place flowers near the crash site where 11 people aboard a twin-engine plane were killed after the aircraft plummeted to the ground.

Investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board are the site continuing to examine the wreckage on the second day of their investigation.

The NTSB team will also look into aircraft maintenance records, runway and weather conditions as well as the pilot’s logbook and training records.

The 11 people on board were on a plane operated by Oahu Parachute Center. Company representatives could not be reached for comment this morning.

The Beechcraft King Air 65-A90 crashed at the fence line shortly after takeoff Friday night. Investigators said the aircraft apparently flipped and burned shortly after takeoff.

Dillingham Airfield remains closed today because of the investigation.

Lt. Joshua Drablos

The Navy identified a 27-year-old sailor as one of 11 people killed in Friday’s crash of an Oahu Parachute Center Beechcraft King Air at Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia.

Lt. Joshua Drablos was confirmed aboard the aircraft by the National Transportation Safety Board and confirmed dead by a local medical examiner, the Navy said today in a news release. Drablos was assigned to U.S. Fleet Cyber Command.

The Maryland man had been with the Kunia Cyber Mission Force since late 2018, except for a few months as a student at the Naval War College.

Drablos, who attended the Naval Academy, was on the Navy men’s track and field team as a pole vaulter.

As a Jefferson Forest High School student, Drablos won the state title in pole vault in 2010, the year he graduated.

He was a track and field team captain and was president of the Teenage Republicans Club.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and shipmates of Lt. Joshua Drablos during this extremely difficult and painful time,” said the commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, Vice Adm. Timothy “T.J.” White.

“Joshua was an invaluable member of the Fleet Cyber team, and we are deeply saddened by the loss of this humble warrior,” White said.

Jordan Tehero

A budding videographer who fell in love with skydiving was one of the 11 victims of Friday’s airplane crash in Mokuleia.

Jordan Tehero, 23, took up skydiving a few years ago as a distraction from the breakup of a relationship, his father, Garret, told The Associated Press. Then his son “went and fell in love” with the sport, he said.

The plane was carrying skydivers from the Oahu Parachute Co..

The Beechcraft twin-engine airplane that can seat 13 took off from the runway at Dillingham Airfield, banked and then inverted in the air and crashed near the airport’s perimeter fence Friday evening, the National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy said. There were no survivors.

Garret Tehero lives on Kauai, where his son also lived.

Tehero said he spoke with his son the morning of the crash. The two had flown to Honolulu together, the father for business and Jordan for skydiving. Jordan also worked as a security guard, and his employer wanted him to do some work in Honolulu on Sunday as well, so he decided to stay while his father went back to Kauai.

He said Jordan became interested in skydiving after he and a girlfriend broke up a few years ago.

“Sometimes people find a passion when they go through something, you know, that makes you want to take the mind off,” the father said. “He went and fell in love with it.”

Jordan’s parents both expressed worries over his new hobby.

“Because of our fear, we wanted him to stop,” the father said. “But he didn’t have the fear that we had, so he just continued.”

Any fears he may have had were taken care of with prayer. “He always told me, ‘Dad, I pray before every flight, before every jump I pray,’ ” the father said.

Original article ➤

Family members say Ashley and Bryan Weikel had dated since they were teens and married last year. The trip to Hawaii was a surprise from Bryan to celebrate their first anniversary.

HONOLULU (KKTV) - Colorado Springs newlyweds were among the 11 who perished when a skydiving plane crashed and burst into flames on Hawaii's North Shore.

The family of Bryan and Ashley Weikel tell 11 News the couple was in Hawaii to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. Their next big adventure as a married couple was to skydive for the first time.

Their plane went down just minutes after takeoff Friday night.

"I saw it hit. I was right there, man. I was right there. I heard the boom," Oahu Parachute Center employee Carlos Zepata told CBS News.

Zepata drove the customers to the flight and is one of the last people to speak with the victims before the crash. He told CBS he saw a huge fireball after the plane went down.

Another witness told reporters he saw the plane get 75-100 feet off the ground, then nosedive and flip belly forward twice before plummeting to the ground nose-first.

"The fire department got the call about 6:30 this evening and we responded, 14 fire trucks, got there really quickly," Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves told sister station Hawaii News Now (HNN).

The wreck was engulfed in flames when firefighters reached the scene. As the plane crashed within the confines of the airfield, crews were able to reach it quickly, Neves said. No one was left alive.

The fire chief confirmed several relatives were at the airfield to watch the skydivers and likely saw the plane go down.

"There was some family members that were left behind ... [the victims] left the family members behind and took off, so there were some survivors who did not go on the plane."

Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called the crash the nation's deadliest involving a civil aircraft in nearly a decade.

"On behalf of the NTSB, I’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to those who lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to each and every one of you,” she said.

Among the factors that could have contributed to the crash, the NTSB is looking at whether the plane was overweight. It was reportedly near capacity when it went down; the plane is outfitted to carry 13 people and had 11 on board. Weights and balance checks need to be conducted before each flight.

Relatives of the Weikels told 11 News the young couple moved to Colorado Springs shortly before their wedding last year. Bryan Weikel, 27, had surprised Ashley Weikel, 26, with the trip.

Kenneth Reed was waiting to hear from his brother how skydiving went. When hours passed with no text or phone call, a bad feeling crept over him. His worst fears were confirmed when he started googling skydiving in Hawaii.

"The first thing that popped up was the headline that a plane had crashed. I just knew right then."

Besides the Weikels, police say one other woman and eight men were on board. None have been formally identified, but friends and family have begun speaking out.

Among the victims identified by loved ones is 29-year-old Casey Williamson, who once lived in Vail.

Original article ➤

Larry Lemaster was identified by friends as one of the victims on board.

DILLINGHAM AIRFIELD, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The victims killed in Friday’s skydiving plane crash at Dillingham Airfield include a couple from Colorado, a 28-year-old Oregon man, and several experienced skydiving instructors.

Near the crash site Saturday, mourners added flower and lei to a growing memorial for the dead.

Eleven people were on board the sunset skydiving tour, which crashed shortly after takeoff and burst into flames. The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office hasn’t released the names of those killed, but family and friends have begun to identify the victims.

Hawaii News Now has confirmed that three of the 11 were visitors — the Colorado couple and Oregon man.

Six of the victims, meanwhile, worked for Oahu Parachute Center.

Instructor Larry Lemaster was one of them.

An expert skydiver, he was once part of Team Fastrax, a group that does parachute performances on the mainland.

Team members posted on Facebook that Lemaster was a kind man who always had a smile.

In a statement, Team Fastrax said it was devastated by the loss:

“Larry was a professional skydiver and performed at the highest level in our sport. He was a charitable man that put the needs of others before his own. Larry served our nation with honor in the United States Army and donated his time to share the great aspects for our sport by taking our combat injured warriors skydiving. Larry never met a stranger and made the lives of everyone he met better. The world lost a teacher of how to live life properly and we will miss him.”

Also on the flight was instructor Casey Williamson. Friends said he lived every day with a smile.

Another victim was also identified as Mike Martin, who friends say was a jump and kite surfing instructor.

Two others on board were residents — one from Kauai, the other from Ewa Beach.

Original article ➤

This June 2019 photo provided by Natacha Mendenhall shows Casey Williamson, left, and his mother Carla Ajaga in Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. Mendenhall said her cousin Williamson, who worked at Oahu Parachute Center, was on board the skydiving plane that killed multiple people when it crashed Friday evening, June 21, 2019. She said her family has not been officially notified of his death. But they provided Honolulu police with Williamson's name and date of birth, and the police confirmed he was on the flight, she said. The 29-year-old Yukon, Oklahoma, native started skydiving about two-and-a-half years ago. Williamson was his mother's only child, Mendenhall said. 

Professional parachute demonstrator Larry Lemaster, an Army veteran with more than 3,000 jumps, died doing what he loved, his wife, Anna Elkins, wrote on Facebook Saturday.

Lemaster was among eleven people killed Friday when authorities said a small plane crashed during a skydiving excursion in Hawaii and erupted into flames. The Hawaii Department of Transportation on Saturday updated the number of fatalities.

"I don't have an explanation for the utter tragedy that has happened," Elkins wrote.

"But Larry Lemaster would never want one person to waste a single minute of their life mourning his. He was doing what he loved. We spoke about this on many occasions."

The Beechcraft A90 King Air crashed during taking off Friday evening at Dillingham Airfield on Oahu's North Shore, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The names of the passengers have not been formally released by authorities.

Elkins said her "heart also goes out to" the Oahu Parachute Center and the loved ones of friends who perished in the crash.

"Today is the worst day of my life. My son has lost his father... He wants you to celebrate his life and your own. Love who you love with great intensity. Do what makes you happy. Be the person you want to be because obviously tomorrow is not guaranteed," she wrote.

John Hart, a founding member of the Ohio-based parachute demonstration firm Team Fastrax, said Lemaster volunteered time taking wounded combat veterans skydiving.

"There really wasn't anybody like him," Hart told CNN Saturday. "He just saw the good in everyone... I've never met a person like him, and I probably never will."

He said he spoke with Elkins and she was on her way to Hawaii. Lemaster, whose last performed with Team Fastrax in the fall, loved sharing the sport as a tandem instructor, Hart said.

The cause of the wreck wasn't immediately known. The plane was carrying passengers who intended to skydive, and it crashed around 6:30 p.m. at a fence away from the runway, Honolulu Fire Department Chief Manuel P. Neves told reporters Friday night.

The plane was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, Neves said.

Some family members of those aboard were at the airfield when the plane went down, Neves said.

"I am closely following the tragic developments out of Dillingham Airfield this evening," Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted. "At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims."

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to Hawaii on Saturday morning to investigate the crash.

The airfield, roughly a 35-mile drive northwest of Honolulu, is a general aviation airport operated by the state Department of Transportation under a 25-year lease from the US Army, Hawaii's government website says.

The state leases 272 acres of the 650-acre Dillingham Military Reservation and operates the single 5,000-foot runway primarily for commercial glider and skydiving operations.

Original article can be found here ➤

Nine people died in the fiery crash of a Beechcraft A90 King Air on a sunset skydiving tour at Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia Friday evening.

Honolulu Fire Department Chief Manuel Neves said that when crews arrived the plane was engulfed in flames and wreckage was lying at the airfield’s fence line away from the runway.

Fourteen fire trucks and other HFD units with 39 personnel were dispatched to Dillingham at 6:24 p.m. The fire was brought under control 20 minutes later, fire Capt. Kevin Mokulehua said.

Neves said the names of the passengers are known but were not being immediately released. Some surviving family members were at the airfield tower, he said.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation, which operates the airfield under a lease from the U.S. Army, was the first to verify the nine fatalities via social media.

“With extreme sadness HDOT reports there were 9 souls on board the King Air twin-engine plane that went down near Dillingham Airfield with no apparent survivors,” officials said in a tweet.

DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara later confirmed that the plane was a Beechcraft 65 King Air that crashed on the airfield property soon after takeoff.

He said preliminary reports indicated that six on board were employees of Oahu Parachute Center, and the three others were customers of the company.

Sakahara said after 10 p.m. that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board would be investigating and the airfield was closed until further notice.

Honolulu Emergency Services Department officials said they received a call at 6:26 p.m. and that EMS personnel “assisted with the death pronouncements of nine people” involved in the crash. They did not immediately release the gender or ages of the victims.

Christopher Richardson, 50, a skydiver with nearly 2,000 jumps under his belt, said he learned of the crash when someone called him asking if he was OK. The Aiea resident and skydiving coach said he immediately drove to the scene.

He said he thinks he knows at least five of the skydivers and the pilot, but was unable to confirm that.

“I’m just raw,” Richardson said of his emotions, knowing that at least some of the dead were his friends.

Richardson, an electrician, said it was likely the plane was full of fuel and crashed as it was about to go on a sunset skydive, which is common. The crash left the bodies “horribly burned and unrecognizable.”

From viewing the scene through the chain-link fence, he speculated that the crash occurred midfield and the plane was heading northeast.

He said the aircraft’s owner, Oahu Parachute Center, is one of three skydiving companies based at Dillingham Airfield.

On its website, Oahu Parachute Center described its King Air 90 aircraft as the fastest skydiving plane in Hawaii. The website says safety is the company’s top priority.

The fire department’s Air 1 helicopter conducted an aerial search of the site, looking for debris or any survivors.

Neves said the debris field was relatively small — about 50 feet by 50 feet.

He said investigators were still gathering information about the details of the flight.

The National Weather Service reported showers and light and variable winds in the vicinity of Dillingham Airfield.

Honolulu police received the initial report at about 6:20 p.m.

Police closed Farrington Highway in both directions fronting the airfield for hours, backing up traffic, before authorities started to contraflow the traffic.

Harold Ross, 34, was on his way to pick up his niece from nearby Camp Erdman, when the accident occurred.

He said he was one of the first motorists to be stopped when they closed off the road to traffic and noticed the smoke.

“Sad nine people died,” he said.

He said the numerous school buses were taking 160 students to Camp Erdman.

The buses were among scores of vehicles stopped along the highway Friday night. People were parked along the roadside.

Story and video ➤

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Beechcraft A90 King Air skydiving plane crashed on Oahu’s North Shore shortly after taking off Friday for a “sunset tandem” flight, killing all nine people on board.

The Beechcraft A90 King Air operated by the Oahu Parachute Center ― crashed about 6:30 p.m. at the Dillingham Airfield. Of the nine killed, three were customers and six were employees.

State Transportation Department officials said the FAA and NTSB will be investigating the crash.

“We are mourning this terrible tragedy," DOT Director Jade Butay told reporters Friday night.

"During this difficult time, we want to express our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of the flight crew and passengers.”

When firefighters arrived at the airfield, they found the wreckage of the craft fully engulfed in flames. Photos from the area showed smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away.

“We saw big smoke. We saw big fire, firemen trying to put it out. Crazy,” said witness Justin Kepa.

About an hour after the crash, a somber Fire Chief Manuel Neves told reporters: “Right now, the initial report is that there were nine souls on board. There are no survivors."

He said that family members of those on board the aircraft were on the ground when the crash happened and may have seen the plane go down.

“It is very difficult. In my 40 years as a firefighter here in Hawaii, this is the most tragic aircraft incident we’ve had," Neves said.

“We had some helicopters with the military, but this is a civilian plane with that many people on board.”

Hawaii News Now spoke to a skydiver who’s been a volunteer instructor, and who raced to the scene after hearing about the crash. He said the skydiving community is in mourning.

On board the craft, he said, were three students, five skydivers and the pilot.

On Twitter on Friday night, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he was following developments on the crash. “At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims,” he wrote.

Eyewitness describes seeing the wreckage of a deadly plane crash on the North Shore of Oahu
All nine on the aircraft were pronounced dead at the scene, Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman Shayne Enright said.

Neves said firefighters worked Friday night to secure the debris field ― a relatively small area that covered about 50 feet by 50 feet. The crash was near the airfield’s fence line.

The Dillingham Airfield will be closed indefinitely in the wake of the crash, the state said. Farrington Highway in the area has since reopened after being blocked off for several hours.

The crash is one of the deadliest for a civilian airplane in Hawaii’s modern history.

Eleven were killed in December 1981 when the twin-engine Beechcraft they were in crashed into Pearl Harbor. The group of skydivers was planning to parachute into Aloha Stadium.

In 1992, nine people were killed when a tour aircraft that took off from Hilo Airport slammed into mountainous terrain at Haleakala, according to NTSB records.

And eight people were killed in 1987 when a Molokai-bound air taxi crashed into the water.

More recently, five people were killed in 2016 when a Cessna 182H crashed at Port Allen Airport on Kauai. The NTSB concluded that engine power loss contributed to the crash.

That same year, two military helicopters crashed off Haleiwa. Twelve Marines died in the crash.

Story and video ➤

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Byron, CA

Accident Number: WPR16LA150
Date & Time: 07/23/2016, 1900 PDT
Registration: N256TA
Aircraft: BEECH 65 A90
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Aircraft structural failure
Injuries: 15 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Skydiving


The commercial pilot reported that, while setting up for a skydiving jump run, the airspeed was a little slow, and the airplane abruptly stalled, rolled left, and began rotating downward. A jumper, seated in the copilot's seat, stated that the pilot did not retard the throttles during the recovery attempt and that the airplane's airspeed increased rapidly. The jumper also reported that he heard a "loud bang" during the recovery sequence. The pilot briefly recovered the airplane to a wings-level attitude, but it then subsequently stalled and entered another spin. During the second spin event, all the jumpers successfully egressed. After about nine rotations, the pilot recovered the airplane to a wings- and pitch-level attitude, and shortly thereafter, it broke off to the left and stalled and rotated downward again. The pilot recovered the airplane again and flew back to the airport because the airplane was handling abnormally, and he landed it without further incident.

After landing, a witness noted that the airplane's right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were missing; they were subsequently recovered in a field a few miles south of the airport. Magnified optical examination revealed that all the fracture surfaces on the right horizontal stabilizer, elevator, and attachment bracket were consistent with overstress separations, which was likely the source of the loud bang heard by the jumper during the recovery sequence. No indications of fatigue or corrosion were observed. Therefore, it is likely that the right horizontal stabilizer and the attached elevator were overstressed during the airplane's left spin recovery, which led to their in-flight separation. Due to the dynamics during a spin recovery, only the right horizontal stabilizer experienced g forces and air flow beyond its limit.

The Airplane Flight Manual contained a spin recovery procedure, which stated to "immediately move the control column full forward, apply full rudder opposite to the direction of the spin, and reduce power on both engines to idle. These three actions should be done as near simultaneously as possible." It is likely that the pilot's failure to follow these procedures led to the airplane's airspeed rapidly increasing and caused increased air flow, which required additional g forces to recover.

Postaccident, the airplane's weight and balance were calculated for the accident flight, and the center of gravity (CG) was determined to be about 6 to 7 units aft of the limit. An aft CG results in the airplane being in a less stable flight condition, which decreases the ability of the airplane to right itself after maneuvering and likely contributed to the pilot's inability to maintain level flight. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain an adequate airspeed and his exceedance of the airplane's critical angle of attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent spin. Also causal to the accident was the pilot's failure to follow prescribed spin recovery procedures, which resulted in increased airspeed and airflow and the subsequent overstress separation of the right horizontal stabilizer. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inadequate preflight weight and balance calculations, which resulted in the center of gravity being aft of the limit. 


Airspeed - Not attained/maintained (Cause)
Angle of attack - Capability exceeded (Cause)
CG/weight distribution - Capability exceeded (Factor)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Use of equip/system - Pilot (Cause)
Incorrect action performance - Pilot (Cause)
Use of checklist - Pilot (Cause)
Weight/balance calculations - Pilot (Factor)

Factual Information

On July 23, 2016, about 1900 Pacific daylight time, a Beech 65-A90, N256TA, sustained substantial damage following a loss of control while climbing out near the Byron Airport (C83) Byron, California. The commercial pilot and the 14 passengers were not injured. The airplane was registered to N80896 LLC, and operated by Bay Area Skydiving under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the skydiving flight. The local flight departed C83 about 1851.

According to the pilot, as the airplane neared the planned jump area and altitude, about 12,500 ft, mean sea level, he initiated a left turn to line up for the drop zone. He stated the airplane's airspeed was a little slow and then "suddenly the airplane abruptly stalled, rolled off to the left, and began rotating nose-down." He stated that the airplane "did a couple of downward barrel rolls." One of the jumpers, seated in the co-pilots seat, heard a "loud bang" during the recovery sequence and stated that "the pilot did not retard the throttles during the recovery, causing the airplane to develop too much speed." The jumper further stated that during the recovery he felt the g-force on his stomach. The pilot said that he temporarily recovered the airplane to a wings level attitude for a few seconds and observed that the airplane was about 90° off the planned heading, and slow in airspeed.

Subsequently, the pilot stated there was a "shock" to the controls and "simultaneous the airplane suddenly broke hard to the left," stalled a second time, and began to rotate downward. The pilot told the sky-divers to jump out of the airplane. The parachutists complied, and all of them successfully exited the airplane during this second spin event. The pilot then initiated the spin recovery procedures to no apparent effect through about 9 rotations, and stated that the roll rate was a lot more rapid than the first spin event. He then pulled both propeller controls levers to the feather position and was able to get out the spin. He recovered the airplane to a wings and pitch level attitude, but shortly thereafter, the airplane "broke left" and stalled for a third time. The pilot recovered the airplane again by lowering the pitch attitude and increasing the airspeed.

The pilot turned back towards the airport and since the airplane was handling abnormally, he adjusted the elevator trim to its full nose up position to help him maintain straight and level flight. He stated that the full nose up trim setting was used on the approach. In addition, the pilot flew the approach 15 knots faster than required, in order to compensate for the control issue of a marked decrease in elevator performance.

The pilot described the landing as being nose low relative to a normal landing. After landing at C83, a witness observed that the airplane's right horizontal stabilizer, with the attached elevator, was missing. The separated airplane parts were subsequently located in a field a few miles south of the airport.

The pilot reported that there were no abnormalities with the airplane on the previous flights that day, or during his pre-flight inspection for the accident flight. He stated that the weather was clear and that there was a light chop. Further, he reported no engine issues during the flight.

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the wing's top and bottom skins were unremarkable. The engine mounts, and the left horizontal stabilizer attachment points were examined for overstress, but none was observed. No signs of flutter were observed on the left horizontal stabilizer.

The right horizontal stabilizer, with the elevator attached, that had separated from the airplane, was examined. The right elevator and elevator trim tab remained attached to their respective attachment points. Fractures were observed on the main and trailing edge horizontal spars on the right horizontal stabilizer. There was some wrinkling on the skin surface. The attachment bracket that connected the right horizontal stabilizer to the airplane, and to the other horizontal stabilizer, exhibited fracture surfaces on the right side where the right horizontal stabilizer attached.

Portions of the right horizontal stabilizer, elevator, and the attachment bracket were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Materials Laboratory for further examination. Magnified optical examination of the fractures surfaces revealed features consistent with overstress separations. No indication of fatigue or corrosion was observed. Deformation and fracture patterns in the right horizontal stabilizer spars were indicative of the stabilizer tip bending up and the lower spar also had upward tearing of the webs.

The airplane's flight manual spin recovery states: "immediately move the control column full forward, apply full rudder opposite to the direction of the spin, and reduce power on both engines to idle. These three actions should be done as near simultaneously as possible, then continue to hold this control position until rotation stops and then neutralize all controls and execute a smooth pullout. Ailerons should be neutral during recovery."

The airplane's weight and balance was calculated for the accident flight. The center of gravity (CG) was estimated to be about 6-7 units aft of the limit. Due the center of gravity (cg) being aft of the limit, the maximum allowable gross weight was unable to be determined at the time of the accident. According to the FAA Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge states, "as the CG moves aft, a less stable condition occurs, which decreases the ability of the aircraft to right itself after maneuvering or turbulence."

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 60, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/04/2014
Occupational Pilot: 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/16/2016
Flight Time: (Estimated) 1860 hours (Total, all aircraft), 20.5 hours (Total, this make and model), 1706.2 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 284.3 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 9.1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BEECH
Registration: N256TA
Model/Series: 65 A90 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1967
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: LJ-256
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 15
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/05/2015, Continuous Airworthiness
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 9650 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 2 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 14543.9 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt and Whitney
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-20
Registered Owner: N80896 LLC
Rated Power: 550 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: LVK, 399 ft msl
Observation Time: 1853 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 229°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 7°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots, 280°
Visibility (RVR): 
Altimeter Setting: 29.82 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV): 
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Byron, CA (C83)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Byron, CA (C83)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1851 PDT
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: BYRON (C83)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 78 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 14 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 15 None
Latitude, Longitude:  37.828333, -121.625833 (est)

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California

December 18, 2016: Aircraft departed on a skydiving flight and declared an emergency due to an engine out. Aircraft landed in a field. 

N80896 LLC

Date: 18-DEC-16
Time: 21:22:00Z
Regis#: N8751Z
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 206
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91