Starbulletin.com

Sunday, January 26, 2003



Teen pilot missing
on flight to Maui

Chezray Hayes, 17,
was last heard from
at 12:15 p.m. yesterday


By Diana Leone
dleone@starbulletin.com

A Coast Guard plane was to continue searching this morning for a single-engine plane with a 17-year-old student pilot that went missing on a flight from Honolulu to Kahului yesterday.

Oahu resident Chezray Hayes took off from Honolulu Airport at 11:30 a.m. and was expected to land at Kahului Airport about 1 p.m., said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Craig Dente.

"His last radio contact was with the Molokai tower at 12:15 p.m.," Dente said. Hayes indicated no problems and told the tower he would check in again when he reached the east side of Molokai about 12:24 p.m., Dente said.

He never did.

Clouds were as low as 500 feet over East Molokai yesterday at the time Hayes would have been flying there, said Coast Guard Lt. Jeff Janszen.

Coast Guard auxiliarists drove to the cliffs along Molokai's north shore to see if they could see anything, but they could not, Janszen said.

art

Hayes was making the solo flight as a requirement for a private pilot's license, said George Hanzawa, owner of the Cessna 172 that Hayes was flying and of George's Aviation, where Hayes had been taking flying lessons.

"He's already done this trip before," Hanzawa said. Hayes has been flying with his company since September, "usually a couple times a week," Hanzawa said.

The 1979 blue and white Cessna "is totally mechanically sound," Hanzawa said. "It just went through a big inspection recently and the engine has only 300 hours on it. It's in good mechanical shape and has good radios. We're totally befuddled."

Weather looked good when Hayes took off, Hanzawa said . He expected Hayes back in Honolulu about 2 p.m.

Instead, by that time the Coast Guard had a helicopter searching the north shore of Molokai, Dente said. After finding nothing, the helicopter was replaced with a C-130 search and rescue plane at 5:30 p.m.

The plane, Dente said, can search in the dark. But cloudy weather forced pilots to stop searching about 8:30 p.m.

Searching was to resume at first light this morning, said Janszen. Late yesterday the Coast Guard was "still treating it as an overdue aircraft," he said.

A Molokai Police spokeswoman said last night that there had been no reports from residents of a crash or a landing. No ground search was under way on either Molokai or Maui, police said.

"He does have all the (emergency) equipment," Hanzawa said, including a life vest, life raft, flares and an electronic position-indicating radio beacon, which is supposed to start signaling if there is a crash.

"He may have brought the plane down safely someplace on Molokai in some desolate place," Hanzawa said. "I hope we hear they found him."



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