HONOLULU — Officials have identified former Kaua‘i Fire Department Captain William “Uncle Billy” Enoka, 78, as one of the two passengers who died in the plane crash at Dillingham Airfield over the weekend.
The other passenger who was killed in the single-engine crash at the airport northwest of Honolulu has been identified as Richard Rogers, 70.
Rogers was from Haleiwa, a town near Dillingham Airfield where the plane crashed.
Enoka, from Kapa‘a, was a retired captain of the Kaua‘i Fire Department, a training pilot and aircraft maintenance officer with Civil Air Patrol, a father and a friend to many on the island.
“He was the fixer of all things broken, the trainer of all things that flew. If Bill said it would work, it would work,” said Kaua‘i Composite Squadron Commander Joseph Quentin. “I don’t know that he did helicopters, but he could tell you how almost every plane on the Kauai airfield worked. More important than that, he was a great friend.”
Quentin came to Kauai as a pilot, but trained with Enoka through Civil Air Patrol evaluations. He can recall with perfect clarity the first time Enoka gave him a ‘kudos’ on a landing.
“I already had about 600 landings, but I remember when Bill told me I did good on a landing,” Quentin said. “I was like, ‘alright!’. Most of the Civil Air Patrol pilots in Hawai‘i have flown with Bill.”
Enoka was an airplane maintenance officer and an aircraft mechanic with the National Guard for 15 years before he joined Civil Air Patrol on Kaua‘i. He retired from the position about two years ago, but never really left.
“He was still there, guiding the current maintenance officer,” Quentin said. “It’s going to take seven guys to cover what Bill did for us.”
Senate President Ron Kouchi expressed his condolences Monday, saying he remembers working with Enoka on Kaua‘i.
“Kauai is mourning the loss of Uncle Billy, who was dedicated to keeping the people of Kaua‘i safe through his lifelong work in the Kauai Fire Department, retiring in 1994 as a Captain with the Kauai Fire Department, and as a Lieutenant Colonel with the Civil Air Patrol,” Kouchi said in a Monday statement.
The statement continued: “I worked with Uncle Billy from 1983 until he retired as a captain in the Kauai Fire Department in 1994 and thereafter in his work with the Civil Air Patrol. He was a consummate professional and his love of flying equaled his love of mentoring our next generation of leaders.”
Wailua Homesteads resident Roy Lamela first met Enoka 20 years ago, and said he was “one of the hardest workers” he’d ever seen.
“I first met him working in the Kumu Hula Association food booth at one of their festivals in Pleasanton, CA. Then, those close to him, myself included, called him ‘Uncle Sonny’,” Lamela said. “The guy knew his way around the food booth and was one of the hardest workers in there when it came to setup, running, and breakdown.”
Lamela remembers Enoka as a man who was fun to work with and “one of the nicest people I’ve ever known”.
After a full day’s work at the booth we would head to the bar at the host hotel, have a drink, and talk story. After listening to him talk with his pidgin accent, l would start catching myself saying a few things in pidgin (Not very well, by the way) He stopped coming to the festival after a few years and I missed seeing him around,” Lamela said.
Lamela came to see “Uncle Sonny” as family, especially after moving to Kaua‘i. Schedules got busy, though.
“I figured I would see him again and take him out for a drink like we used to do,” Lamela said. “I’ll just have to raise a glass and have a drink in memory of you.”
It is unclear what caused the Cessna 305 plane to crash on Saturday, Feb. 22. Paramedics declared one man dead at Dillingham Airfield and another man was sent to a hospital where he later died from his injuries.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board plan to investigate and Saturday, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor reminded the public it typically takes a year to determine a probable cause of an accident.
A skydiving plane crashed at the same airfield last year, killing all 11 people aboard.
Today on Kauai, Civil Air Patrol is hosting an open house for members, past and present, at the Civil Air Patrol hangar. A memorial service is scheduled at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center for March 3, during the regular meeting time of Kauai Composite CAP. The public is invited to pay their respects. Doors open at 5 p.m.