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UPDATE: Two pilots in downed plane off Kona coast found alive

UPDATE @12:10pm- The two people on a plane that went missing Thursday afternoon off of Kailua-Kona have been found alive and are back on land with minor injuries, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. More details as they develop.

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A joint search for two pilots from a small plane reportedly downed off the Kona coast continues, Friday.

Currently searching are a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, the crew of the USCGC Galveston Island (WPB-1349), a Navy MH-60R helicopter off the USS Chung Hoon (DDG-93) and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3K2 Orion airplane. The Chung Hoon and Orion aircrew are here participating in RIMPAC.

The search area has been extended out to 45 miles offshore. Debris has been sighted by the Orion crew at 8:19 a.m. about 52 miles northwest of Kona. The Galveston Island has been diverted to that location to investigate and determine if it is from the missing plane. They are expected on scene at 10:30 a.m. and will attempt to relocate the debris.

Current weather is forecast as variable winds less than 10 mph to the west of Kona, but further out winds are 10 to 20 mph with seas at 4 to 7 feet. A small craft advisory is also in effect for the area until Saturday at 6 p.m.

At 3:15 p.m. Thursday watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordonation Center in Honolulu received notification from Honolulu control facility personnel that the pilot of a dual engine aircraft with two people aboard radioed them reporting and in air emergency. The tower confirmed they then lost contact with the pilot and the plane no longer appeared on radar.

The plane was reportedly traveling to Kona from Maui, with the last known position approximately 25 miles northwest of Kona. A Navy P3 Orion airplane was on approach to Kona and overheard the pilot’s call to the tower. The Orion crew initially diverted to investigate the report, but was not involved in the search.

The Coast Guard and Navy are responding to report of a downed aircraft off Kona, Hawaii, Thursday.

Currently searching are HC-130 Hercules airplane crews and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Air Station Barbers Point with a Navy MH-60R helicopter crew from the USS Chung Hoon (DDG-93). The USCGC Galveston Island (WPB-1349) is en route.

At 3:15 p.m. watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordonation Center in Honolulu received notification from Honolulu control facility personnel that the pilot of a dual engine aircraft with two people aboard radioed them reporting and in air emergency. The tower confirmed they then lost contact with the pilot in the plane no longer appeared on radar.

The plane was reportedly traveling to Kona from Maui, with the last known position approximately 25 miles northwest of Kona. A Navy P3 Orion airplane was on approach to Kona and overheard the pilot’s call to the tower. The Orion crew initially diverted to investigate the report, but is not involved in the search.

Watchstanders immediately issued an urgent marine information broadcast advising mariners in the area to keep a sharp lookout and report any sightings to JRCC. They also directed the launch of assets to respond.

On scene conditions at the aircraft’s last known position are reportedly 12 mph winds from the northeast with waves 2 feet or less and an east swell of 4 feet. Visibility is limited with haze, isolated showers and darkness.

 

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