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Plane wreckage likely to remain on Oahu mountain

Updated: 
September 5, 2017 - 10:14am

HONOLULU — The wreckage of a single-engine aircraft that crashed near Kunia this summer, killing all four Oahu residents on board, likely will stay in the state-owned Honouliuli Forest Reserve where it went down.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said the decision to recover the wrecked Beech 19A falls to its owner, Jahn Mueller.

Mueller, owner of Aircraft Maintenance &Flight School Hawaii, said last month he is not required to remove the wreckage from the mountain and has no plans to do so, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2gBn9XM).

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction of the reserve, says it has determined the wreckage is not an environmental hazard and does not plan to retrieve it.

Holloway said if the wreckage is recovered, the National Transportation Safety Board would send an investigator to examine it.

But critics are questioning the decision to leave the wrecked Beech, considering another of Mueller’s planes, a Piper PA 28-140, crash-landed in a Mapunapuna stream under a Moanalua Freeway bridge June 30, seriously injuring the three people on board.

“I believe the wreckage should be retrieved for the sake of my friends’ lives,” said Devlyn Perugini, who was friends with the Beech passengers. “It should be a priority to explore every possibility. I’m not trying to be spiteful or attack anyone, but there are too many things left unanswered.”

Robert Katz, a Dallas-based flight instructor and 36-year pilot who tracks nationwide plane crashes, said unusual factors in the fatal Beech crash warrant wreckage recovery and a full investigation.

“Not making Mr. Mueller recover this plane is like allowing the fox to guard the henhouse,” Katz said. “Two crashes in such a short time is a red flag. There are a lot of loose ends here. Not enough scrutiny.”

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