NTSB says pilot error caused West End plane crash in February

| June 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

John Weiser's twin-engine Partenavia P68 Observer aircraft shortly after he crashed it on Feb. 27 while approaching the Panda Ranch Airport for landing on Molokai's West End. Photo courtesy of NTSB

John Weiser’s twin-engine Partenavia P68 Observer aircraft shortly after he crashed it on Feb. 27 while approaching the Panda Ranch Airport for landing on Molokai’s West End. Photo courtesy of NTSB


The National Transportation Safety Board issued an accident report last Wednesday, June 4, that blames pilot John Weiser, Jr. for the crash of his airplane the evening of Feb. 27.

Weiser, 79, crashed his twin-engine Partenavia P68 Observer while approaching the Panda Ranch Airport, a small landing strip on the West End of Molokai. Based on the NTSB findings, Weiser was misaligned with the runway when the lights went out. The lights did not come back on until Weiser was less than half a mile from the end of his approach.

The report concludes it was Weiser’s “pilot error” in continuing his approach. The right wing struck the ironwood trees lining the runway when his altitude was 20 feet. This impact slowed the plane to stall speed causing it to strike the ground with the wing low. It then spun and slid tail first into an adjacent pair of trees. The report said Weiser should have re-established his final approach three miles out before attempting to land.

In his statement to NTSB investigators, Weiser said he was using the GPS track line to locate the field and found himself about 400 yards to one side of the approach to the airstrip. He made a short approach for landing and the right wing drifted into the tree line. He stated that there was no airplane mechanical or engine malfunctions prior to the accident.

The aircraft was registered to Weiser’s company Affordable Casket, LLC and was flying under the business name Paragon Air, Inc. The aircraft sustained serious damage. Weiser, the only person on board, was not injured.

A story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper highlighted several other problems Weiser has had operating his plane.

According to the Star-Advertiser, Weiser’s company John Hutton Corp., doing business as Tora Flight Adventures, was fined $15,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2006 for transporting tourists in small planes from Honolulu to Panda Ranch without proper certification. The company was ordered to cease operations.

Days later two people were critically injured when a small plane run by Tora Flight Adventures crashed just after takeoff from Panda Ranch’s airstrip. Weiser was not the pilot.

Weiser had his pilot’s license suspended for various violations that occurred Dec. 28, 2009, including operating an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger life or property of another and failure to accomplish a flight review. It also found he falsified, reproduced or altered applications, certificates, logbooks, reports or records, said the Star-Advertiser story.

On Jan. 4, 2009, Weiser, then 74, was piloting a twin-engine plane used for scattering ashes. On a personal trip to Honolulu, he made a hard landing at Honolulu Airport. He had a passenger aboard but no one was hurt.

He also crashed a small plane July 25, 2009, in Kaunakakai, Molokai, with one passenger aboard, but no one was injured. The NTSB determined pilot error was the probable cause.

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