A Cessna that disappeared from radar after leaving Molokai last month with three people on board is presumed to have crashed in the ocean and its occupants are believed to be dead, a federal report says.
The preliminary report of the Dec. 30 incident was published last week on the National Transportation Safety Board’s website.
Aboard the Cessna 172M plane were pilot Michael Childers and his passengers Whitney Thomas and John Mizuno. Childers and Thomas were in a relationship and Mizuno was a friend, a friend of Thomas has said. All were in their 20s and from Oahu.
At the time of the crash, scattered clouds were as low as 900 feet above ground and conditions were overcast from 1,600 feet up. Winds were at about 14 mph, and gusts were about 21 mph.
The report said a flight plan had been filed, and visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. Visibility was at 6 miles.
The Cessna left Molokai Airport in Kaunakakai for Honolulu Airport at 6:43 p.m. and disappeared from radar in six minutes, the report said.
Preliminary radar data indicated the pilot immediately began climbing to the west after leaving Molokai Airport. Seconds after reaching a maximum altitude of about 2,525 feet, the plane entered a descending right turn at 6:48 p.m.
Thirty-one seconds later, at 6:49:09, the radar track ended over open water about 8 miles northwest of Molokai Airport.
A search began immediately after the plane was reported missing, but authorities suspended the search three days later, on Jan. 2, having found no signs of the wreckage.
The plane still has not been located, and an emergency locator signal has not been reported, the report said.
The plane was registered to Kumiko Yamataka and managed by Lani Lea Sky Tours. Childers was flying the plane on a personal flight, the report said.
The family of Whitney Thomas has a gofundme.com page online to raise funds to continue the search. So far, the site has collected more than $37,600.
“These are people who don’t just light up a room, they illuminate our lives,” the page says, adding that loved ones hope to search hard-to-reach areas by drone. “We need them back home.”
A friend of Thomas’ said Thomas and Childers were servers at Haleiwa Joe’s in Kaneohe. Childers received his pilot’s license last year and had hoped to become a commercial pilot. The three friends were on a day trip to Molokai when they disappeared.
Visit gofundme.com/search-fund-michael-whitney-john to donate.