New details have emerged on the helicopter crash that killed four passengers and the pilot Thursday afternoon in the mountainous terrain near Kilohana Elementary School in East Molokai.
The identity of all those onboard has been released. A Toronto couple, Stuart Robertson and Birgitta Wannersjo, both had worked for a defense and aerospace contractor. The other couple was newlyweds Mike Abel and Nicole Bevilacqua, both engineers at Westingouse Nuclear in the Pittsburgh, Penn. area.
The pilot was Nathan Cline, 30, of Kihei. Cline and his wife moved to Maui in July after he had worked at Bristow Helicopters for four years.
Cline and the two couples were flying just northwest of Kilohana when the helicopter slammed into a ridge and burst into flames, according to witness accounts. Just before the accident at 12:15 p.m., fast moving rain and wind fronts had passed through the area.
A Maui contractor removed the The Eurocopter EC-130 helicopter yesterday. According to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters owner David Chevalier, the helicopter was less than a year old and was being leased from Nevada Helicopter Leasing LLC. The helicopter left Kahului Airport Thursday for the 45-minute tour of West Maui and Molokai. Blue Hawaiian conducts 160,000 tours each year on all of the Hawaiian islands.
The National Transportation Safety Board began its investigation this past weekend and might issue a preliminary report at the end of this week or early next week.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the report will not touch on what might have caused the crash. The preliminary report will include information uncovered from the examination of the aircraft, as well as information on weather conditions and maintenance of the aircraft.