HONOLULU (KHON2) — The NTSB is investigating Saturday’s deadly crash of a glider tow plane on Oahu’s north shore.
Friends and family have identified the two men killed as highly trained pilots with years of experience.
The Honolulu Medical Examiner has identified them as Richard Rogers, 70, of Haleiwa, and William Enoka, Jr., 78, of Kapaa.
The NTSB has moved the plane to a hangar at Dillingham Airfield as they try and figure out what went wrong Saturday morning. We do know weather is not believed to be a factor in the crash. There were two highly experienced pilots on board. One was training the other, and the plane took off and landed twice before its final flight.
NTSB investigators say Rick Rogers and William ‘Bill’ Enoka were practicing touch and goes. They are also called take off and landings Saturday morning. On the third take off something went horribly wrong.
“During take off, according to witness statements, the airplane yawed right and then lost engine power and then rapidly rolled left nose down and impacted the ground,” said NTSB investigator Noreen Price.
Monday investigators examined the plane and engine.
“The engine could’ve lost power because of a malfunction,” said Price. “But the pilots can also cut engine power themselves. Which for an emergency, when you’re about to crash, is one of the procedures you’re supposed to do. Shut down an engine. That’s all part of the investigation we’re trying to determine.”
She said the pilot in the backseat was highly experienced in flying the particular type of aircraft and was training the pilot who was in the front seat. Price said the front seat pilot had never flown this type of plane before.
“They each have control of a stick and also the throttle,” said Price. “They have control of the engine. So yes, if one person was incapacitated the other person would be able to take over. We will be looking into medical factors in the investigation and the health and experience of the pilots.”
The crash comes just months before the Hawaii Department of Transportation plans on transferring its lease at Dillingham Airfield back to the Army which has left tenants wondering about what is next.
“That was going to be effective June 30, 2020 anyway,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Sakahara. “So right now there is no change to that process. This incident did not impact that process as well. If anything, it likely reinforces the state’s contentions that it is and will be getting out of the management of this facility.”
Tenants at the airfield say they look forward to Tuesday’s North Shore neighborhood board meeting and discussing Dillingham’s future.
KHON2 will learn more about what happened Saturday when the NTSB preliminary report is released within the next seven to 10 days.