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State, county commendations for crews who responded to aircraft crash

Simin Boroumand and Jenna Harvey listen as Andy Smith reads the governor's commendation Wednesday on Kailua Pier. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

Crews from two Kona companies were recognized Wednesday for their bravery in responding to a fatal light aircraft crash last month.

Also Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report on the crash. The final report is not expected for months.

The governor’s West Hawaii liaison Andy Smith and Margaret Masunaga, representing Mayor Billy Kenoi, delivered the commendations Wednesday afternoon on Kailua Pier.

Smith said Gov. Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona offered their thanks and wanted to recognize the brave actions of the crews from Captain Zodiac and Dolphin Discoveries.

Masunaga said the mayor also offered his thanks and hoped the crews would serve as an inspiration to their colleagues and community.

Two Captain Zodiac rafting boats and a Dolphin Discoveries boat were the first on the scene April 21 after the ultralight aircraft crashed into the bay. They pulled the two aircraft passengers from the water, administered CPR and transported them to county emergency crews on shore.

Despite all efforts, pilot Tedd Robert Hecklin, 38, and his passenger Kathryn Grace Moran, 37, died of multiple traumatic injuries.

The complete NTSB preliminary report:

NTSB Identification: WPR10FA211
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, April 21, 2010 in Captain Cook, HI
Aircraft: Airborne Windsport Edge XT-912-L, registration: N34TH
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On April 21, 2010, about 0936 Hawaii standard time, an Airborne Windsport Edge XT-912-L weight-shift-control light sport aircraft, N34TH, was substantially damaged when it impacted the waters of Kealakekua Bay near Captain Cook, Hawaii.

The private pilot and the passenger sustained fatal injuries. The aircraft sank, and as of this writing, it has not been recovered.

The aircraft was registered to, and operated by, the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local sightseeing flight. The aircraft departed from Kona International Airport, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, about 1911.

According to witnesses, the aircraft was maneuvering near the edge of a cliff about 350 feet above the water. One witness stated that the aircraft was turning when it “flipped over,” and after it was inverted, the wings folded around the fuselage, collapsing “like a butterfly landing on a flower.” The aircraft descended, impacted the surface of the bay about 100 yards from shore, and sank immediately.

County representative Margaret Masunaga, Captain Zodiac crew member Jason Trask, Captain Zodiac Capt. Karl Lizza, First Mate Kamalu Hawelu, Captain Zodiac Capt. Mitchell Kaufman, Captain Zodiac owners Linda and Bill Zabolski and Governor's Liaison Andy Smith. (Hawaii 24/7 photo courtesy of Margaret Masunaga)

County representative Margaret Masunaga, Dolphin Discoveries owner Claudia Merrill, Dolphin Discoveries Capt. Simin Boroumand, Dolphin Discoveries First Mate Jenna Harvey, and Governor's Liaison Andy Smith. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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