HONOLULU (KHON2) — Sixteen months after a horrific skydiving crash in Mokuleia that killed 11 people, the National Transportation Safety Board released a docket. The investigation continues and a final report will be issued at its conclusion.
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Among the issues that the NTSB encountered were witness accounts of pilot Jerome Renck’s aggressive takeoffs.
The report cited one witness account at Dillingham Airfield:
“He very quickly realized that the airplane would not be able to clear the trees bordering the airfield. He said there were no unusual noises, there was no smoke … but it continued to bank, went inverted, and impacted the ground.”
Witnesses who were on the flight before the fatal takeoff described themselves to the NTSB as experienced skydivers that found that “The takeoff seemed more aggressive than usual.”
Of the pilot:
“He definitely banked it a little hard on a high rate turn at a seemingly low altitude.”
A fellow Oahu Parachute Center pilot said that Renck would give “A ‘thrill ride’ for the passengers. He said Jerome would also do negative G dives for the ‘weightless’ effect for fun”
Another pilot said he liked Renck’s flying techniques because they were “predictable.”
Renck was employed by Oahu Parachute Company, who’s owner George Rivera explained at the time to KHON2 what he thought the case was.
“I can speculate,” Rivera said. “This is just my opinion. I believe it was a little bit of complacency among the boys. I’m not quite sure. Maybe it was a little bit of distraction in the cockpit. Know there was nothing wrong with the airplane, I do know that.”
As far as the aircraft, the docket lists no issues with weight or balance. The NTSB determined that the engines operated normally during the flight prior to the fatal flight.
One of the other skydiving pilots at Dillingham Airfield who also used to fly for Oahu Parachute Company said of the plane:
“The left engine always looked “wet” from all the oil leaks, and it wouldn’t surprise him if the left engine failed on takeoff.”
KHON2 briefly spoke with Rivera on Wednesday night. He had not yet read the docket and declined comment until he finishes reading. He commended the NTSB for their thorough investigation.
CORRECTION: After a clarification from the NTSB, this story was corrected to reflect that the NTSB released a docket on this crash. It was incorrectly stated previously in this story that the docket was the final report.
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