LIHUE — A relative of two men who died in a Kauai plane crash last year said he disputes a finding that it was largely due to pilot error.
Alan Faye of Princeville, grandfather of Marshall and Phillip Cabe of Lawton, Oklahoma, who has a background in air safety and investigations, said there are still issues he is looking into of what may have caused the May 23, 2016 crash that killed five people on a skydiving flight.
He said Michael Cabe, his son and father of Marshall and Phillip, was there when the plane crashed and heard “a loud pop” coming from the plane that lead him to believe it was more than pilot error.
“Then, the engine basically stalled,” Faye said in a phone interview with The Garden Island.
Faye recalls getting a phone call from his son that morning, and he asked him how the skydiving was going.
“He said, ‘The plane just crashed,’” Faye said.
In Faye’s opinion, based on his son’s account, something went wrong as the plane gained elevation, and it went into a dive before the pilot could regain control and glide it into the bay, Faye said.
He believes operational issues, such as fuel, should be closely reviewed and may have contributed to what happened.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently said the defining event in the crash that killed five people aboard a skydiving flight on Kauai was “loss of control in flight.”
The safety board’s report on the crash was released earlier this month.
The pilot, Damien Horan, of Waimea, was killed along with the Cabe brothers and Skydive Hawaii instructors Enzo Amitrano and Wayne Rose.
The family’s attorney, Rick Fried, said last year the skydiving trip was a college graduation present for the brothers from their father, Michael Cabe.
The report on the crash did not cite a cause, but did say an airframe and engine examination “did not reveal evidence of any preexisting mechanical malfunction.”
Dave Timko, owner of Skydive Kauai said he read the NTSB report that came out a year and a half after the accident.
He has long maintained the plane has a clean safety record.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone that wanted to find out what happened more than me,” he said. “The report was mostly what I expected, they found no mechanical issues with the engine or the airframe of the aircraft. It was determined to be pilot error (loss of control), but these findings won’t bring back my friends that I loved. I hope everybody involved can try to find some closure now, but losing loved ones is hard and I know it’ll always be hard for me.”
Faye said the loss of Marshall and Phillip has been difficult for the family and said Michael Cabe continues to grieve over their deaths.
Faye plans to continue reviewing the report and looking into the crash because he doesn’t agree with the findings.
“I’m not through with it yet,” he said.
The Associated Press and TGI’s Jessica Else contributed to this report.