9 passengers die after plane crashes during skydiving excursion


Remnants of an aircraft carrying nine people lies on the ground near a fence that surrounds Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia, just off Farrington Highway, Friday, June 21, 2019. Photo: Bruce Asato/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP

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HONOLULU, Hawaii — A small plane crashed while on a skydiving excursion in Hawaii and erupted into flames, killing all nine people aboard, authorities said.

The Beechcraft BE65 twin-engine plane crashed while taking off Friday evening at Dillingham Airfield on Oahu’s north shore, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The cause of the wreck wasn’t immediately known. The plane was carrying passengers who intended to skydive, and it crashed around 6:30 p.m. at a fence away from the runway, Honolulu Fire Department Chief Manuel P. Neves told reporters Friday night. The plane was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, Neves said.

The names of the passengers have not been released. Some of their family members were at the airfield when the plane went down, Neves said.

“I am closely following the tragic developments out of Dillingham Airfield this evening,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted. “At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims.”

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to Hawaii on Saturday morning to investigate the crash.

The airfield, roughly a 35-mile drive northwest of Honolulu, is a general aviation airport operated by the state Department of Transportation under a 25-year lease from the U.S. Army, Hawaii’s government website says. The state leases 272 acres of the 650-acre Dillingham Military Reservation and operates the single 5,000-foot runway primarily for commercial glider and skydiving operations.

The crash is Hawaii’s deadliest civil aviation wreck since September 1999 when 10 people were killed during a sightseeing flight, according to NTSB records.

In that incident, a twin-engine Piper PA-31, operated by Big Island Air, crashed on the slope of the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii island.

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