The single-engine Cessna that crashed Feb. 22 at Dillingham airfield, moments after takeoff, had experienced a rough landing just prior to the incident, according to an initial report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB’s preliminary report doesn’t determine what caused the crash, but it does offer new details largely based on witness accounts. The Cessna had been used to tow gliders into the air for about 40 years, owner Honolulu Soaring Club told the NTSB.

One of the two crash victims, Rick Rogers, was completing his training to fly the plane solo and tow future glider flights, according to the report and tenants at the airfield. The Cessna was not towing a glider when it crashed.

Multiple witnesses say they plane took off, completed an initial lap, and then landed roughly, where tail wheel bounced up and down and the Cessna stopped abruptly, the report stated. Rogers’ instructor, William Enoka, then got out, walked around the plane and spoke momentarily with Rogers, it added. Enoka boarded and they took off again.

Dillingham glider tow crash

This image, included in the NTSB’s preliminary report, depicts the flight path of the Feb. 22 crash at Dillingham airfield that left two dead.

Honolulu Police Department

The plane quickly yawed, or twisted, to the right, and witnesses said they could tell it was “obviously in distress and not in control,” witnesses stated for the report. The engine sound diminished as it drifted over a tree line and then went quiet altogether, they added. It then crashed south of the runway.

tow plane glider crash Dillingham

An arial photograph, included in the NTSB’s preliminary report, of the tow plane that crashed Feb. 22 at Dillingham airfield.

Honolulu Police Department

The NTSB has retained the wreckage to study it further. Witnesses said the winds at the time of the crash were blowing at less than five knots. Visibility was at about 8 miles.

Following the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration said it was re-examining whether the scenic glider tours that rely on such tow planes should be held to the same regulatory standard as helicopter and airplane air tours.

Read the NTSB report here:

 

An urgent message to our readers . . .

It’s a critical time for our community as we all try to navigate unprecedented disruptions to our daily lives.

We want you to know that our nonprofit newsroom’s team of reporters, editors and support staff are committed to providing you with accurate and in-depth information on Hawaii’s important issues, including developments on how our island state is coping with this global pandemic.

Help ensure that our newsroom remains strong during this period when fact-based, trustworthy information is more important than ever. Please consider supporting Civil Beat by making a tax-deductible gift.

About the Author