HANAPEPE — Five people were killed in a plane crash at the Port Allen Airport Monday morning.
The single-engine Cessna 182H owned by Skydive Kauai had just taken off for skydive tour around 9:30 a.m. when it crashed and burned.
A pilot, two skydive instructors and two tandem jumpers were on board, according to a release from the Kauai Fire Department.
Four of the passengers were pronounced dead on the scene. A man was taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a county release.
“My condolences go out to the family,” said Dave Timko, president of Skydive Kauai. He declined further comment.
The crash also resulted in a small brush fire, which was extinguished by KFD firefighters by 10:30 a.m., the release said.
The Kauai Police Department, the Salvation Army, the Kauai Red Cross and Life’s Bridges also responded.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims’ family and loved ones. (Monday was) an incredibly sad day for our close-knit community here on Kauai,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho said.
The identities of the passengers have not been officially released.
Hawaii News Now identified one of the victims as Enzo Amitrano, 43, a skydiving instructor.
He and his wife, Shannon, were the subject of a March 8, 2011 story in The Garden Island after their home was damaged in a fire while they were on their honeymoon in the Kalalau Valley.
Friends were posting condolences on Facebook.
“My heart goes out to Shannon Bre Amitrano we lost a great man in Enzo,” posted a friend. “He will truly be missed. to Enzo who is fishing and skydiving in heaven. love you. god bless ur gonna be missed.
One witness quoted by news agencies said the plane had just taken off when the engine seemed to quit.
Cisco Campos said the plane looked like it was turning back to the airport when it caught fire, went straight down and crashed.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the cause of the crash.
There are several standards and regulations skydive operations have to adhere to, said Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for FAA Pacific Division.
“Aircraft and pilots engaged in skydiving operations have to meet essentially the same standards as aircraft and pilots engaged in other charter operations,” he said. “For example, aircraft must be inspected at specific intervals, and pilots must have at least commercial pilot licenses.”
Other operating standards, as set out by FAA, include: displaying a maintenance log on every aircraft and a cockpit checklist.
Skydive Kauai is listed in FAA documents as D&J Air Adventures.
The company owns three Cessna’s, according to FAA records.
Skydive Kauai, which operates out of the Port Allen Airport, is the only skydiving company on the island, said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau.
The company has been registered with the department of commerce and consumer affairs since 2011.
“Our hearts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy. We stand ready to assist Life’s Bridges with any needs they have in assisting the families,” Kanoho said.
In his book “The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook,” Andrew Doughty voiced concerns about the Port Allen location and the age of the aircraft.
Doughty, a pilot, who reviewed Skydive Kauai for his book, wrote that because Port Allen is a peninsula, it’s shifting winds can make landing difficult, he said.
The plane that crashed was reportedly built in 1965.
“Their plane doesn’t exactly inspire confidence,” the review from the “Ultimate Kauai Guidebook” reads.
But Doughty emphasized that his concerns were about location, not about the operations.
“Skydiving isn’t an unsafe thing,” he said. “This wasn’t a skydiving accident, it was an airplane crash.”
Bill Freeze, a Utah resident who went on a skydive tour through Skydive Kauai in February, said in his experience, all of the employees at Skydive Kauai were highly trained.
“We had a phenomenal experience,” he said. “They did everything by the book, and everything went exactly as planned.”