The plane was reportedly carrying a pilot instructor and his student

By Rachel DeSantis
March 01, 2021 01:32 PM
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In this photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard, a coast guard vessel searches along the Na Pali Coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai
Credit: Lt j g Daniel Winter/AP/Shutterstock

A pilot instructor and his student were rescued from choppy waters on Saturday after their aircraft went down in the ocean off the coast of Hawaii.

No major injuries were reported in the incident, which occurred just before 6 p.m. about eight miles off the coast of Lanai, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a press release.

Watchstanders with the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center received a report that the DA40 Diamond Star aircraft was experiencing engine trouble, and "was likely going to ditch in the water," the release said.

Once it landed in the water, the two people on board were rescued by a helicopter aircrew, as well as a rescue swimmer who helped hoist them to safety.

"As a watchstander this is the type of outcome we want to see with every case," said Lt. j.g. Makenzy Karnehm, a Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center watchstander. "Both the Coast Guard and our partners train together for incidents like this and once the call came in we were able to quickly mobilize a robust response and rescue the pilots."

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The men were treated by Honolulu Emergency Services upon arriving on Oahu, and were taken to the hospital in serious condition, ABC affiliate KITV reported.

George Hanzawa told the outlet that the Diamond Star plane was a rental from his company George's Aviations. He said that an instructor took a student out to fly on Saturday afternoon, and they were supposed to be back by sunset.

As the plane struggled in the sky, a Mokulele Airlines flight headed for the local airport took notice, and circled the area in an attempt to help, passengers on the second plane told KITV.

"We started a descending spiral over the ocean just looking for the aircraft," a passenger said. "My wife and two passengers on the left side of the plane spotted the aircraft, then witnessed the aircraft impact the water… We kept losing the plane. It submerged. It was just a white tail in a blue ocean with white caps and two small people with life jackets."

The wife described the ocean's waters as "super choppy," and said their pilot told them to be on the lookout for people in yellow life jackets.

Departments involved in the rescue include the Coast Guard, Maui County Fire Department and Molokai Fire Department, according to the release. The aircraft eventually sank.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.