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Lack of fuel cited in air crash report

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  • Kat Wade / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
    Pilot Greg Harding

Federal aviation inspectors have released preliminary results of separate helicopter and small airplane accident investigations in Hawaii, including one involving an Oahu pilot who failed to put fuel into his aircraft before a flight at Dillingham Airfield.

Pilot Gregory Harding said he had intended to put fuel into the tank after the flight.

The airplane flown by Harding landed in shallow waters off the airfield at about 11:20 a.m. Sept. 24.

According to an aviation investigator, the gas tank after the landing was inspected and found to be empty.

Aircraft owner Ana Gromacki said she gave the pilot a gas card before the accident and told him to refuel the aircraft.

Harding said the fuel gauge showed that the tank was a quarter full (9 gallons), giving him 45 minutes of flight, and he anticipated the flight’s duration to be about 12 minutes. He used the plane to tow a glider.

After releasing the glider at 3,000 feet, he started descending and lost engine power at about 2,000 feet, he told the National Transportation Safety Board.

Harding said initially planned to land on the beach, but instead landed on ocean after seeing numerous people on the sand.

He was not injured, but the Piper aircraft’s left wing, aft fuselage and lower engine cowl suffered damage.

On Maui, a failure to follow procedures in making sure obstacles are well away from a helicopter resulted in tail rotor damage to a Hawaii Helicopter, according to a federal aviation inspection report.

The helicopter was undergoing tests when it struck a golf cart used by the maintenance crew at 2 p.m. Sept. 13, the report said.

No one was injured, but the accident destroyed the golf cart’s windshield and caused substantial damage to the helicopter’s tail rotor and tail boom.

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