Monday, March 21, 2022

Cessna 172P Skyhawk, N98763: Fatal accident occurred March 20, 2022 in Kekaha, Hawaii



Lt. Col. James Degnan, 76, is remembered by friends as an “icon” and a talented pilot with a great sense of humor. He was killed in a plane crash in Kalalau Valley on March 20, 2022.
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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. 

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

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

Civil Air Patrol Inc


Location: Kekaha, Hawaii
Accident Number: ANC22LA025
Date and Time: March 20, 2022, 14:57 Local
Registration: N98763
Aircraft: Cessna 172P 
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Other work use

On March 20, 2022, about 1457 Hawaii-Aleutian standard time, a Cessna 172N airplane, N98763, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident about 13 miles north of Kekaha, Hawaii, on the island of Kauai. The two pilots were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight.

The accident airplane, owned and operated by the Civil Air Patrol, was conducting a routine hurricane / tsunami practice flight. Witnesses reported to the Kauai police department that just before the accident, they reported seeing an airplane flying low, and close to the mountain, in poor weather conditions, then hearing a loud crashing noise. A search and rescue helicopter, operated by the Kauai Fire Department, subsequently located the fragmented airplane wreckage in an area of steep mountainous terrain, and confirmed that there were no survivors.

The airplane was equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B), which provides aircraft tracking to determine its position via satellite navigation or other sensors and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. The information can be received by air traffic control ground stations as a replacement for secondary surveillance radar, as no interrogation signal is needed from the ground.

According to archived Federal Aviation Administration ADS-B data, after the airplane departed the Lihue Airport, it initially proceeded southwest, then it turned north as it neared the northwest side of the island. The airplane then turns to an easterly heading, towards an area of rising terrain. The ADS-B data stops near where the wreckage was found. 

A detailed wreckage examination is pending following wreckage recovery efforts.



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N98763
Model/Series: 172P 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PHBK, 12 ft msl 
Observation Time: 15:51 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C /19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 320°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 4300 ft AGL 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Lihue, HI (LIH)
Destination: Lihue, HI (LIH)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: Unknown
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 21.97921,-159.66786 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.



Lt. Col. James Degnan
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Two Civil Air Patrol pilots participating in a Hawaii Wing tsunami alert training mission March 20 perished in an accident on Kaua’i.

“We lost two valued members of our CAP ohana (family) this weekend,” said Col. Chantal Lonergan, Hawaii Wing commander. “Our hearts remain with their families.”

Lt. Col. James E. Degnan and Capt. David J. Parker, both retired military pilots, participating in the wing’s monthly U.S. Air Force-assigned exercises when the accident occurred over land about 3 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time — just 11 minutes into their flight. 

Fire Air 1 responded and located the wreckage of the aircraft on a ridge near the Pihea Trail in Koke’e State Park on the island’s northwest side. Rescuers were unable to reach the crash site until this morning because of the mountainous terrain and inclement weather that moved into the area. The bodies were recovered when the weather cleared. 

Both men were members of the Kaua’i Composite Squadron, based in Lihue. 

Degnan, 76, was the squadron’s operations and alerting officer. Parker, 77, served as the unit’s emergency services officer. Both were experienced pilots and served in the Vietnam War. 

“The Hawaii Wing’s tsunami alert flights are among the most important missions performed by Civil Air Patrol,” Lonergan said. “Our aircrews train year-round and have provided this valuable service for more than 50 years now. Their vigilant efforts have saved countless lives.” 

The training accident's cause is under investigation.




KOKE‘E — Two men were killed Sunday when a Civil Air Patrol Cessna 172P Skyhawk crashed in the mountainous terrain about 13 miles north of Kekaha, in Kalalau Valley.

The victims were identified by Kaua‘i Police Department as Princeville resident Lt. Col. James E. Degnan, 76, and Kapa‘a resident Captain David J. Parker, 78. They were conducting monthly tsunami-warning practice runs for CAP.

“We extend our sincere condolences to the loved ones of James and David, and our partners over at the Civil Air Patrol, whom we work with closely,” said KPD Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce in a statement. “These individuals were seasoned pilots who were part of our Kaua‘i community, and we know they will be missed deeply.”

First responders received reports of a plane crash in the area of Koke‘e at around 3:15 p.m. on Sunday. Several witnesses reported an airplane flying low before hearing a crash, officials reported.

Personnel aboard the Kaua‘i Fire Department’s emerency helicopter located the site of the crash a few thousand feet below the Kalalau Lookout on Sunday, but suspended operations until first light on Monday due to harsh weather conditions.

The County of Kaua‘i announced the closure of the Kalalau lookout Monday and a no-fly zone for the Kalalau and Koke‘e areas early Monday morning. The Kalalau lookout has since been reopened, and the no-fly zone will be lifted at 8 a.m. today.

Officials from KPD, KFD, state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and DLNR Division of State Parks participated in the operation Monday, which located the bodies of the two men at around 10 a.m.

The NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of this terrible incident, and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these pilots who were well known in our tight-knit community,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a statement released Monday.

“The Civil Air Patrol has always been there to help our community during disasters and emergencies. We thank our first responders for working urgently and doing everything they could to bring a sense of closure for those touched by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you all.”

This is the second deadly aircraft incident to occur on island this year.

On Feb. 22, a military-contracted helicopter crashed during a training mission at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, killing four.

An NTSB report said that the helicopter was making a left turn when it unexpectedly stopped before pitching downward and hitting with the ground “in a near-vertical attitude.” The helicopter caught fire after the crash.


Two people were killed when a Civil Air Patrol plane crashed during a training exercise on Kauai Sunday afternoon, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Cessna 172P Skyhawk went down at 3:45 p.m. Sunday in mountainous terrain 13 miles north of Kekaha, according to the NTSB. Kauai police confirmed that two people on board, the pilot and co-pilot, did not survive.

The two were identified as Civil Air Patrol volunteers James Degnan, age 76, of Princeville, and David Parker, age 78, of Kapaa, according to a news release. Police and fire officials recovered their bodies around 10 a.m. today.

“We extend our sincere condolences to the loved ones of James and David, and our partners over at the Civil Air Patrol, whom we work with closely,” said KPD’s Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce, in a release. “These individuals were seasoned pilots who were part of our Kaua‘i community, and we know they will be missed deeply.”

The scene and investigation of the crash have been turned over to the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration for further investigation.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of this terrible incident, and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these pilots who were well known in our tight-knit community,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a release. “The Civil Air Patrol has always been there to help our community during disasters and emergencies. We thank our first responders for working urgently and doing everything they could to bring a sense of closure for those touched by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you all.”

Degnan and Parker were piloting the Cessna 172P Skyhawk on a routine, monthly tsunami warning practice run.

The United States Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol was founded on Dec. 1, 1941, to mobilize the nation’s civilian aviation resources for national defense service, according to the CAP website. The Hawaii Wing flies training missions year-round, Wing Commander Chantal Lonergan told the Star-Advertiser.

“Our volunteers are highly dedicated and committed to serving the community,” said Lonergan. “We are aligning our hearts with the family members and hoping for the best.”

The Hawaii Wing works with county and state first responders, including local civil defense and emergency management agencies, to fly tsunami, hurricane, and tropical storm warning missions over the coastal areas and rain forests in addition to aerial damage and disaster assessment flights, search and rescue, and USGS Volcanoes National Observatory overflight of lava flow zones, according to the CAP Hawaii Wing’s website.

The Kalalau Lookout in Kokee is closed today, according to Kauai County, and a no-fly zone is in place for the Kalalau and Kokee areas.

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