comscore Coast Guard expands search for plane missing off Molokai, identifies missing | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Coast Guard expands search for plane missing off Molokai, identifies missing


    The Coast Guard cutter Kittiwake plies the waters off Molokai in search of a downed small aircraft. This is a view from the cutter.


    The Coast Guard cutter Kittiwake plies the waters off Molokai in search of a downed small aircraft. This is a view of the bow from the bridge.


    A Cessna is believed to have crashed about 4 miles northwest of Ilio Point, the northwestern tip of Molokai, Friday night.

  • COURTESY PHOTO A Cessna 172M plane was reported missing off Molokai on Friday. This is an image of a Cessna 172M Skyhawk.

The U.S. Coast Guard expanded its search today for a missing Cessna aircraft that reportedly went down north of Molokai last night with three people on board.

The Coast Guard also identified the missing as pilot Michael Childers and two passengers: John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas. State Rep. John Mizuno confirmed he was not on the plane.

The search was extended to 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point, the northwestern tip of the island.

Coast Guard rescuers were searching with an HC-130 Hercules airplane, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, and the cutter Kittiwake. The Maui Fire Department was assisting with air and surface assets, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle said this morning that searchers had not found any evidence of the wreckage.

“The search continues today and we are covering as much area out on the water as we can,” she said by phone.

Winds in the area were reported to be 23 mph with 6- to 8-foot seas and scattered showers.

The Hawaii Patrol Facility at Honolulu Airport notified the Coast Guard at about 7 p.m. Friday that a Cessna 172 had left Molokai Airport for Oahu and disappeared off the radar. The Cessna had the tail number N174LL.

The Cessna is believed to have crashed about 4 miles east of Ilio Point.

Bad weather hampered the search late Friday night with visibility at near zero, forcing the Coast Guard’s helicopter and aircraft crews to return to Oahu. The Kittiwake remained on scene, searching overnight.

The helicopter and airplane crews returned at first light this morning, Molle said.

Last night, winds at the scene were reported to be about 19 mph with 4- to 6-foot seas.

Comments (17)

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  • So the SA’s intern who wrote this could not pick up the phone and call the control tower to find out which pilot this was? Talking about being lazy…

    • Why do you assume that the control tower knows who the pilot was? They deal with hundreds of planes every day, and you think they know the name of every pilot that takes off and lands? You can pick up the phone and call the “control tower”. and you wouldn’t get any names. Let’s start out 2017 on a positive and smart note livinginhawaii.

        • Wrong! Most pilots don’t “file a flight plan.” A VFR pilot can request “flight following.”
          I can rent a plane and fly wherever I want as long as I stay out of certain air spaces.

        • My earlier reply was sent for approval – whats with that? My 2nd cousin works in a local control tower and I guarantee you that even if this was a VFR pilot they know who it is. My earlier comment was “yes I know who it is because I did call and yes they know the name of each pilot once a plane is lost. There are those who have friends flying this weekend and for those who did not call it would be great for the SA to let them know as well”.

        • living, When I rent a plane I go to the FBO check out the plane, fire it up call ground control them my tail # taxi to the runway, contact the tower, if available. I give them my tail # tell them I’m flying to the south and that’s it. They don’t know who I am am where I’m going. All I do is squawk 1200 on the transponder and that lets the controller know there’s a plane out there.

          If I take off from a uncontrolled airport all I have is to notify the airplanes in the pattern of my intentions. Zero contact with anybody else.

          But yes, it wise to have the approach control “watch over you” with flight following in VFR.

    • living, what “tower” would you call, why in the world would anybody know who the pilot is, where’s the “tower” on Molokai? 🙂
      Their might be 100 to 50 runways on the islands and only a handful of control towers.
      That’s like calling the police to find out who just crashed into your mail box.

    • Control tower does not know who the pilot is. Flight Service might since that’s who you file a flight plan with, but ATC would not have that info readily available. If some hack from the Star Advertiser called and asked me who the pilot was, I’d tell him/her to go pound sand.

  • It is extremely unfortunate for the persons on board, especially since it is the Holiday season. Hopefully, the search will lead to survivors. If the circumstances are reported correctly, the flight was apparently conducted at night, in still questionable weather, over open ocean, and with very limited or no ground lighting reference. Whether flying under visual flight rules, operating on instruments, or filing a flight plan (including possible flight following on radar), it does not leave much margin for a case of mechanical failure or could still result in spatial disorientation despite an instrument-rated pilot. Additionally, under the best of circumstances, trying to land a disabled light aircraft safely in potentially rough ocean conditions at night, with poor depth perception and other visual reference is very difficult.

    • So true. He just got his Private license in October. Why would the company who rented him the plane let him fly out on a day that was clearly not suitable for VFR flying, and doubly so with a newly minted pilot without an instrument rating. Stupidity on both the renter and the rentee….

  • Ugly weather makes it hard for the searchers. Hope the people on board had time to put on life vest and were able to get out after the plane hit the water. Wouldn’t give up hope on them if they have life vest.

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