NTSB report indicates
Hayes flew too low

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> The 17-year-old student pilot who died in a single-engine airplane crash in northeast Molokai was told by his flight instructor to fly at an altitude of 3,500 feet over the north shore of Molokai en route to Maui from Honolulu, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report said the wreckage was located on Manuahi Ridge about 1,500 feet above sea level, about 75 feet below the top of the ridge.

Chezray Hayes of Mililani had accumulated about 34 hours of flight time and was on his first solo crossing on Jan. 25, his flight instructor told the board.

The report said Hayes had made two similar crossings on the same route with an instructor, the last on Jan. 18.

The report said the Cessna 172 left Honolulu Airport at 11:40 a.m., and Hayes filed a a visual flight plan.

Under a visual flight plan, the pilot who is not flying by instruments is required to stay away from clouds and avoid conditions of poor visibility.

Coast Guard officials said Hayes' last radio contact was with the tower at the Molokai Airport at 12:15 p.m., and he planned to check in again when he reached the east side of Molokai at 12:24 p.m. But he never did.

The report said the weather observation facility at the Molokai Airport, 11 miles west of the accident site, reported at 11:54 a.m. that visibility was 10 miles and there were a few clouds at 800 feet, scattered clouds at 2,400 feet, and broken clouds at 5,500 feet.

The Coast Guard pilots who initiated the search efforts at about 2 p.m. reported they observed hazier visibility conditions when they neared the northwest side of the island, according to the report.

The pilots reported once they passed halfway over Molokai, cloud ceilings were around 500 feet and visibility from one to two miles, the board said.

Weather hampered search efforts until Jan. 27 when a Maui Fire Department helicopter spotted the wreckage on the west slope of the Manuahi Ridge, the board said.

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