Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Pilot

HONOLULU – Pending new information, the U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for the pilot of a Beechcraft 1900, which crashed Monday morning approximately seven miles southeast of Lihue International Airport, Kauai.

A 38-year-old male pilot was the only person aboard the Beechcraft, which was carrying cargo and U.S. mail on a regularly scheduled flight from Honolulu to Lihue, Kauai. Coast Guard air and surface rescue crews scoured an area nearly 200 square miles and recovered 45 mail bags, pieces of the downed plane, an inflated and empty life raft, a shoe and flight bag.

Coast Guard crews brought the debris to Nawiliwili Harbor to be transferred to officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board at Lihue International.

Air crews from Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu manned two HH-65 Dolphin helicopters and a C-130 search plane on eight different missions Monday and Tuesday. The buoy tender Walnut from Honolulu, 87-foot patrol boat Kittiwake from Nawiliwili Harbor and a 25-foot SAFE boat from Station Kauai were also dispatched to the scene and searched yesterday, through the night and this morning.

Coast Guard crews reported improved search conditions today – with seas at 4 to 6 feet and easterly winds of 15 knots. The Coast Guard suspended its search at 2 p.m. after an HH-65 crew and the crew of the Walnut reported that no more debris had been found since early this morning.

The Coast Guard was notified at 6:45 a.m. Monday of a missing aircraft bound from Honolulu to Lihue. After determining weather conditions, a reasonable search area and target, Coast Guard crews were airborne and underway at approximately 7 a.m.

Coast Guard personnel aboard the 25-foot small boat from Station Kauai first spotted debris at 8:50 a.m. and this was confirmed two minutes later by crews aboard a C-130. The debris was in a position seven miles southeast of the airport and coincided with the last known position on radar of the Beechcraft.

Overnight, crews aboard the Walnut, Kittiwake and HH-65 helicopter carried out search patterns that blanketed the crash site.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the pilot,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Seth Haynes, a search and rescue controller with the Coast Guard’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu. “We brought as many assets to the scene as we could and we have exhausted the search area. We had optimal search conditions today and we had as many rescuers on scene as we could.”

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