Monday, March 1, 1999

Coast Guard
gives up hunt for
California pilot

The pilot, 54, nose-dived into
the sea off Maui after his
Cessna lost engine power

By Rod Ohira


The Coast Guard has ended its search for a 54-year-old California man who ditched the single-engine plane he was flying 345 nautical miles northeast of Maui, officials said today.

Art Pilot John E. Carlson notified a Coast Guard C-130 escorting him back to a Hawaii airport that he had to ditch the Cessna at about 12:30 p.m. yesterday, said Petty Officer Troy Davidson of the Coast Guard's Joint-Rescue Center.

The plane nose-dived into the sea, Davidson said.

"He was a very experienced pilot but even though proper procedures are followed, every landing whether it's on land or sea is difficult," Davidson said.

A six-hour search for the pilot was unsuccessful and there are no plans to resume searching, Davidson said.

Tom Rea of the Federal Aviation Administration is compiling data on the incident for the National Transportation Safety Board.

Carlson's wife declined comment from California this morning.

Carlson was flying a Cessna registered in Thailand, Davidson said.

The pilot is believed to have flown the plane to Oahu from Asia.

He left Honolulu Airport at about 5 a.m. for California and was performing some kind of ferry service, Davidson said. Carlson was contracted to fly the plane and was not its owner, he added.

At about 9:45 a.m., the FAA office in Oakland notified the Coast Guard in Hawaii that Carlson was in trouble, reporting a drop in oil pressure.

Rea said Oakland assumes jurisdiction of flights 300 miles out of Hawaii.

An Air Force KC-135 established visual contact and communication with Carlson's plane and followed it back to Hawaii until the C-130 made contact at about 11:15 a.m.

Carlson indicated to the C-130 that he was losing engine power and would have to ditch, Davidson said.

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