The private pilot and three passengers departed in the Beech 19A on a local flight in day visual meteorological conditions.
Radar data identified the flight shortly after takeoff at 1,800′ mean sea level (msl), traveling on a northwesterly heading. As the flight continued, the altitude varied between about 1,100′ and 1,800′ as the airplane conducted three 360° turns.
Following the third turn, the plane was heading west, climbing from 1,800′ to 2,000′ msl as it approached a ridgeline that ran perpendicular to its flight path.
Data indicated that the airplane then entered a left turn. The data ended in the vicinity of the accident site near Waipi’o, Hawaii, at an altitude about 1,900′ msl. All aboard died in the crash.
The wreckage was located on steep, mountainous terrain at an elevation about 1,900′ msl. The plane collided with the densely-vegetated terrain in a nearly wings-level attitude about 50′ below a ridge that ran perpendicular to the main north/south running ridgeline. The highest point of the ridge line near the accident site was about 2,800′.
The accident site was located south of a pass in an area commonly used by pilots to transition the inland mountains of the island. The lowest point of the pass was about 2,100′.
Post-accident examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of any mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation, and a witness reported that the engine was producing power until impact.
It is unknown if the pilot was attempting to cross the ridge through the pass, was planning to fly along the ridgeline when the crash occurred, or was going to attempt to climb over the higher ridge. Regardless, the pilot decided to fly at low altitude, providing him little margin for error and he failed to maintain sufficient altitude above the mountainous terrain.
Probable cause: The pilot’s controlled flight into terrain for reasons that could not be determined based on the available evidence. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to fly at low altitude in close proximity to the rising terrain.
NTSB Identification: WPR17FA170
This July 2017 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.