Second attempt at retrieving Piper from ocean successful

A Piper Cherokee aircraft was hauled out of the ocean Thursday, two days after a helicopter trying to salvage it dropped it into waters off of Waiehu, a U.S. Coast Guard official said.

Pacific Helicopters retrieved the sunken aircraft Thursday. A crew aboard a helicopter operated by the same company decided to cut the aircraft lose when it spun wildly Tuesday during an attempt to move it from brush where it had made an emergency landing Sunday.

A pilot and three Maui tennis players survived the crash landing without injury. The plane landed 50 yards from Waiehu Beach, down Lower Waiehu Beach Road.

Pacific Helicopters spokesman Martin Adams told KITV news that the first salvage attempt ran into problems because the airplane’s wing was bent. Wind caught the wing and made the plane uncontrollable, Adams said.

Returning the airplane to shore risked hurting someone on the ground, and the safest recourse was to cut it loose over the water, he said.

On Thursday, divers reattached a line to the airplane and a helicopter lifted it out of the water.

A Coast Guard official said that no environmental violations were found as a result of the plane sinking in the ocean. Officials reported previously that the plane did not have any fuel in its 48-gallon tank, and it did not fall in an environmentally sensitive area north of Waiehu Beach.

On Sunday, the aircraft was being flown from Honolulu to Maui when its pilot declared a mayday, and the plane disappeared from the screens of air traffic controllers, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

On Friday, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said inspectors were able to examine the plane before it fell into the water. The agency was continuing to investigate why the helicopter had dropped the plane into the ocean.

With its office in Kihei, Mokulele Iki LLC is listed as the registered owner of the plane, according to the FAA registry. State records show the company is registered to Howard Mendelsohn. Attempts to reach the company and Mendelsohn were unsuccessful Friday.