Paul Akita's Beech 1900 Ditched Near Kauai Monday
The US Coast Guard has officially ended its search for a pilot
known to have gone down in the Pacific on Monday.
Officials announced Tuesday afternoon that after a search
covering about 200 square miles, no additional debris had been
located. Lt. Walter Daniel offered, "Our thoughts and prayers go
out to the missing pilot...we have exhausted all our resources and
covered all the search area."
The pilot, 38-year-old Paul Akita, flew for Alpine Air. He was
flying from Honolulu to Lihue to deliver over two tons of mail when
his Beechcraft 1900 twin went down in waters south of Kauai, about
seven miles south of his intended destination.
As ANN reported earlier this
week, search teams found some debris, including a
door, on Monday morning.
Details of the last few minutes of the flight are vague, because
the crash happened before the Federal Aviation Administration
opened its Lihue tower at 0600 local time. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor
told KITV News controllers' last instruction to Akita was to follow
an Aloha Airlines plane in for a "visual approach" to Lihue.
When Akita never called to close his
flight plan, the FAA called Alpine Air both in Honolulu and Utah to
try to find the pilot, but got no answer. Gregor says more
confusion followed, delaying the start of the search about an hour
and a half.
"We then contacted an airline pilot who had landed at Lihue just
before Alpine was scheduled to arrive, and we asked the airline
pilot if Alpine was there. The airline pilot apparently mistook
another Beechcraft King Air for the Alpine plane, and informed us
that, yes, Alpine had landed."
Gregor says it wasn't until Alpine Air called controllers about
0700 to ask about their missing pilot that the FAA notified the
Coast Guard and the search got under way.
Akita is reported to have funded the acquisition of his
commercial pilot certificate by teaching surf lessons.