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For Friday, March 11, 2011

By Star-Advertiser staff


Witnesses recount Kauai plane crash

Witnesses told investigators they saw a powered glider maneuvering near the edge of a cliff on Kauai before it plunged into the ocean last month, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Jim Gaither, owner of Big Sky Kauai, a powered-glider flight school, and passenger Kim Buergel, a visitor from Spokane, Wash., were killed in the crash Feb. 15.

After the aircraft maneuvered near the edge of the cliff, one witness said the aircraft pulled up and immediately crashed into the ocean, according to the preliminary report. The powered glider sank in 50 feet of water.

The light sport aircraft, described as an Airborne Windsport Edge XT-912L, was recovered seven days after the crash. The aircraft left Port Allen Airport at about 10:45 a.m. Feb. 15. A kayaker reported the downed aircraft at 11:41 a.m.

A search team recovered the bodies of Gaither, 55, and Buergel, 49, the next day.

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