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Witnesses say powered glider was maneuvering before crash

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 8:15 p.m. HST, Mar 10, 2011


Witnesses of a powered-glider crash in Kauai told investigators they saw the aircraft maneuvering near the edge of a cliff before it plunged into the ocean, 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 on Feb. 15. 

After the aircraft maneuvered near the edge of a 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 departed from Port Allen Airport at about 10:45 a.m. on Feb. 15. A kayaker reported the downed aircraft at 11:41 a.m. 

A search team recovered Gaither, 55, and Buergel, 49, the following day after a massive search. 

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