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On March 25, 1995, at 0004 Hawaii standard time, a Cessna 310Q, N7705Q, was destroyed when it struck a mountain ridge line after takeoff from Cahill, Magi, Hawaii. The aircraft was owned and operated by the pilot and was on the return leg of a cross-country flight to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Visual meteorological conditions were prevalent at the time and no flight plan had been filed for the operation. The return leg departed from the Kahului airport at 2400 on March 24, 1995.
Based on witness statements, investigators estimated that the departure from Kona was approximately 2304. Witnesses at the Kahului airport reported that the aircraft landed on runway 02 at approximately 2400 and deplaned passengers at gate 7.1. Witnesses also stated that after deplaning his passengers, the pilot immediately taxied to the intersection of runway 02 and 05, rolled onto runway 02, and initiated an intersection takeoff.
After takeoff, other witnesses described seeing the aircraft execute a gradual left turn until nearly reversing his course in the direction of Kona. Two witnesses within 2 miles of the crash site saw the aircraft flying at what one described as "cruise" airspeed toward the Iao Valley. All witnesses interviewed described the in-flight sounds of the aircraft as "normal." Several witnesses reported seeing the aircraft rotating beacon, strobe light, and position lights. As several witnesses watched, they observed the aircraft fly into the Iao Valley and impact the southeast side of the valley at 2,500 feet msl. Witnesses stated that the impact was followed by an explosive flash and subsequent ground fire.
Police officers who witnessed the crash stated that the night was very dark and even though there was no visible weather at the crash site, it was their opinion that the pilot would have had difficulty in seeing the ridge line prior to impact.
The captain of Aloha Airlines flight 923, who took off 2 minutes after the accident aircraft, reported seeing the aircraft westbound toward the west Maui mountains. The captain also reported the weather as "clear" with "light and variable winds." Later, during their flight, the captain was asked by air traffic control (ATC) to monitor VHF 121.5 for an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal. The captain reported receiving an ELT signal.
The pilot had, according to his wife, flown into the Kahului airport on several occasions prior to the accident with at least one flight conducted at night. She stated that he was in good health and was not experiencing any personal or psychological problems.
A review of the aircraft and engine logbooks failed to identify any maintenance discrepancies.
According to the refueling facility on Kona, the aircraft main 51-gallon tip tanks had been refueled and "topped off" with 54 gallons of AVGAS on the afternoon prior to the accident. The aircraft was equipped with 20-gallon auxiliary fuel tanks. The refueller reported that he did not dispense any fuel into the auxiliary tanks. Approximately 8 gallons of fuel were found in the right auxiliary tank after the accident. The left auxiliary tank was found ruptured and burned.
According to moon illumination tables for the accident time, date, location, and elevation, the moon was 32 degrees below the horizon.
AIDS TO NAVIGATION
The OGG very high frequency omnidirectional radio range/ultra high frequency tactical air navigation aid (VORTAC) at the Kahului airport was in service at the time of the accident with no reported notice to airmen (NOTAM). The No. 1 navigation radio was set on 114.30 VHF, the frequency of the OGG VORTAC. The No. 1 omni bearing selector (OBS) was set on the 158 degree radial. The highest terrain along this route reaches elevations between 2,500 and 3,000 feet msl.
There was no record of radio communications from the pilot to any air traffic control facility after his takeoff from the Kahului airport. The captain of Aloha flight 923 said she heard the pilot report being "northwest bound" on takeoff from Kahului airport.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft was found at the 2,680-foot level on the southern slope of Iao Valley. The geographic coordinates of 20 52.41 N and 156 31. 88 W were determined by an airborne global positioning system (GPS) unit. The crash site was 7.48 miles distance measuring equipment (DME) from the VORTAC located at the departure airport, on a magnetic bearing of 070 degrees from the accident site. The aircraft was located on an approximate 30-degree slope in an area of dense vegetation with an average height of approximately 6 feet. The terrain immediately surrounding the aircraft showed evidence of ground disturbance and defoliation. The final position of the aircraft was oriented upslope on a 110-degree magnetic heading.
The aircraft fuselage exhibited longitudinal crushing and collapse from the nose aft to the leading edge of the main wings. All flight control surfaces were located. Although extensive structural separation had compromised control continuity, no evidence of preimpact discrepancies was noted. All trim positions were noted. According to the manufacturer, the rudder, elevator, and aileron trim positions were consistent with a cruise configuration.
The aft displacement of the instrument panel reduced the occupiable space in the forward cabin area. The airspeed indicator exhibited a slap mark on the instrument face at 172 mph. The directional gyro had a static reading of 165 degrees. The clock read 12:12.
The cockpit fuel selector panel was examined. The left fuel selector handle was in the "crossfeed" position while the right handle was on "main." The cable-driven fuel selector valves are located in the wing root area. The left selector valve was in the "off" position while the right valve was on "auxiliary."
Fuel samples were taken and water finding paste was used in all fuel tanks with a remaining quantity. No water or visible contamination were noted in the tanks or samples.
Both main landing gear were found in the up and stowed position. The position of the nose gear could not be determined due to impact damage. The right and left flaps were found in the fully retracted position.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Maui County Coroner's Office with specimens retained for toxicological examination. The results of the toxicological analyses were negative.
The fire department pilot who initially responded to the scene reported that there were three small fires in the vicinity of the wreckage. The largest fire was reported in the area of the left auxiliary fuel tank. That fire consumed approximately 20% of the left main wing. Evidence of a smaller fire involving the aircraft nose section was also noted. Soot patterns consistent with undisturbed vertical flames were noted on the fuselage of the aircraft adjacent to the left engine and the left engine nacelle.
The estimated impact forces exceeded human tolerance levels.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Both engines and propellers were secured for shipment to the Teledyne Continental facility in Mobile, Alabama, for further examination. The right engine was set up and successfully run in an engine test cell. The engine produced full power and met the manufacturer performance specifications. The left engine had sustained impact damage which precluded an engine run. The engine was disassembled and inspected with all components exhibiting normal wear patterns.
Both propellers were disassembled and inspected, with no discrepancies noted. According to the manufacturer, the signatures found in the hubs of both propellers, near the low pitch stops, corresponds to propellers in the cruise pitch range at impact.
The remaining aircraft wreckage was recovered to an aircraft storage facility. At the completion of the investigation, the complete wreckage was released to a representative of the registered owner on June 13, 1995.
The ELT beacon was found to have activated. Investigators located the ELT during the initial wreckage inspection and disabled the unit at the request of the ATC tower personnel at the Kahului airport.