On the 25th of September 1999, Big Island Air Flight 58 Piper Chieftain, crashed on a slope of the Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii at approximately 5:30pm. All nine of the passengers on board and the pilot were killed in the crash. The impact sustained by the airplane and the fire that followed the impact completely destroyed the airplane. Big Island Air Flight 58 was operating under CFR Part 135 air taxi operations providing sight seeing tours to tourists and locals. The Piper Chieftain had departed from Keahole – Kona International Airport, Kona Hawaii (KOA) at around 4:22pm. The airport reported that there were visual meteorological conditions that existed prior to the planes departure. The pilot had filed a proper visual flight rules (VFR) flight plane prior to his departure. The investigation that followed performed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had determined that instrument conditions existed in the area of the crash site.
On the morning of the 25th of September an employee with Big Island Air who said they had seen the pilot that morning when he arrived at the airport, mentioned that he appeared to look rested and very alert. There were two flights that were scheduled for the pilot on that day. The first of his flights was a sightseeing tour that was scheduled to depart at 7am followed by the second flight also a sightseeing tour that was scheduled to depart at around 4:20pm. The second flight ultimately ended in the deaths of ten people that day.
Pilots with Big Island Air that were scheduled with a departure time of 7am or earlier would always receive a morning weather report to use as a reference and this weather report would always be included on their flight plane and weather form. The director of operations with Big Island Air reported to officials with the NTSB that he had reported weather information to his pilots that he had received from the FAA’s Honolulu Automated Flight Service Station. The NTSB report was unable to show that any evidence existed to show that the pilot of Flight 58 ever sought or obtained an updated weather report prior to his second departure that day. Obtaining updated weather reports prior to flight operations is a stringent requirement that is required by the FAA.
The pilots second flight departed KOA at 4:20pm and at around 5:20pm the pilot had made a request to the Honolulu AFSS for permission to transition through a restricted air space. AFSS had advised the pilot that the restricted area was open to him, and that for the next 30 minutes he was authorized to transition through that area. There were no other transmissions by the FAA from the pilot following this last request. The radar data that was recorded by the FAA for this flight at around 5:20pm indicated that the airplane was roughly 16 nautical miles east of the restricted area. The reported altitude of the plane, reported by the Mode C transponder on board prior to the crash was roughly...