NTSB: Pilot says plane lost power prior to landing

The pilot of a plane that made an emergency landing last month near the Waiehu shoreline reported a loss of engine power before making the forced landing, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The pilot and three passengers weren’t injured when the Piper Cherokee struck bushes and trees before stopping about 50 yards off Waiehu Beach down Lower Waiehu Beach Road at 4:20 p.m. June 16.

The plane had left Honolulu at 3:30 p.m. and was heading to Kahului Airport, with the three passengers returning home after playing in a U.S. Tennis Association tournament on Oahu.

The pilot told the NTSB investigator-in-charge that the plane was cruising at about 1,500 feet above sea level when he noticed a slight hesitation in the engine. “The pilot switched fuel tanks and verified the magneto and fuel selector positions,” the report said.

“About five to 10 minutes later, the pilot noticed a second hesitation in the engine and performed his troubleshooting procedures a second time,” according to the report. “Shortly after, the engine began to run rough and the pilot noticed that the engine revolutions per minute (RPM) was fluctuating between 1,500 and 2,450.

“Subsequently, the engine lost power, and the pilot initiated a forced landing to an open area.”

The airplane struck bushes and trees before coming to rest in a “nose low” position, according to the report.

Examination by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector showed structural damage to the left wing and fuselage.

The plane was registered to Mokulele Iki LLC of Kihei.

A first attempt to transport the aircraft to another location ended June 18 when the plan spun wildly, and a helicopter crew cut it loose and it fell into the ocean. The plane was retrieved from the ocean June 20.