ROD THOMPSON / RTHOMPSON@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Island Hoppers Cessna 172M that crashed on Mauna Loa June 17 lies in the hangar of the Civil Air Patrol at Hilo airport after being brought there yesterday.
Plane wreck taken to Hilo
A helicopter carries the parts to a road for retrieval by a truck
HILO » A Cessna 172M tour plane that crashed on Mauna Loa June 17 now lies in a Civil Air Patrol hangar in Hilo, broken into several pieces but laid out on the concrete floor in a reconstruction of its original self.
After five days of searching, the Island Hoppers plane was discovered Sunday by helicopter pilot David Okita at the 5,200-foot elevation on the southeast slope of Mauna Loa. The pilot and two passengers had been killed in the crash.
At the first light of day on Thursday, Okita flew again to the site and retrieved the plane piece by piece in four flights, he said. Helicopter work can be done at that altitude only early in the morning because clouds well up later in the day, affecting visibility.
One wing had been sheared off in the crash. Before moving the pieces, a ground crew airlifted to the site unbolted the second wing and removed the engine, Okita said.
Okita carried the two wings, the engine and the fuselage to an area lower on the mountainside where a truck could reach the pieces by a back road.
Yesterday the truck arrived and carried the pieces to Hilo.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Jim Struhsaker flew to the area several times, and removal of the plane from the mountain was done under his supervision, Okita said.
Struhsaker has been studying Island Hoppers' records while waiting for the plane. The Washington, D.C., office of the NTSB has said Struhsaker will hold a news conference in the coming week to give a preliminary statement on his findings.
A final report from the NTSB typically takes from 12 to 18 months to complete. The NTSB Web site has no listing of the accident yet because the preliminary report has not been prepared, but posting of that report is expected at about the same time as Struhsaker's press conference, said NTSB spokeswoman Bridget Serchak.