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Kealakekua microlight crash likely pilot error

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

The National Transportation Safety Board pointed to pilot error as the cause of the April 21, 2010 microlight aircraft crash in Kealakekua Bay.

Tedd Hecklin, 38, of Waimea and passenger Katie Moran, 37, of Kailua-Kona, died when the aircraft dropped into the bay. Witnesses said the aircraft was near the cliff wall when it banked steeply and rolled over.

A loud popping sound was heard as the wings folded around the fuselage and the aircraft fell into the bay.

The final NTSB report said the crash was likely caused by “the pilot’s intentional in-flight maneuvers that exceeded the structural limits of the aircraft, which resulted in structural failure of the wings.”

The Airborne Windsport Edge XT-912-L sank in the bay and was not recovered. Several boats in the area raced to rescue the two passengers, but they both died at the scene.

In addition, the NTSB has released a preliminary report on the Cessna plane that ran out of fuel Oct. 7 and ditched into the ocean 8 miles from Hilo.

According to the report, pilot Charles Brian Mello, 65, left California with 393 gallons of fuel, which he calculated would give about 14 hours of flight time.

After about nine hours of flying into a headwind, Mello determined he would be unable to reach Hilo International Airport.

Mello attempted to reduce fuel consumption but failed to reach the island.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter picked him off the wing of the plane. Mello was treated for minor injuries at Hilo Medical Center.

Mello has logged 9,380 hours of flight time.

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