A Bay Area man who was aboard a skydiving plane during a terrifying mishap over Contra Costa County three years ago has come forward after that exact aircraft was involved in a deadly crash in Hawaii last week.
Achal Asawa fears the same problem that occurred during the 2016 ordeal may have contributed to the crash on Oahu that killed 11 people on a skydiving trek last Friday.
The National Transportation Safety Board is reviewing maintenance and repair logs for the aircraft and is investigating the cause of the Hawaii crash.
On July 23, 2016, in the incident near Byron, California, the twin-engine plane stalled three times and spun repeatedly before the pilot at that time managed to land it safely, the NTSB said in its investigative report. The agency blamed pilot error.
Asawa recalled those terrifying moments.
“At that point of time, I remember thinking that I’m going to die,” he said.
In the video he shot of the incident, Asawa pointed out the shadows rotating on the interior wall of the plane, showing how the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air was spiraling out of control.
“As the plane started spinning, the centrifugal force results in G-forces that were too strong,” Asawa said. “I remember not being able to move my hands, not being able to move my body at all.”
The skydivers celebrating a friend’s 400th jump instead had to search through the chaos for the door. And jump out far ahead of schedule and at a lower altitude.
Asawa was grateful they all had parachutes on.
“We were lucky because that happened at 13,000 feet and not low,” he said.
Asawa’s camera also recorded a piece of the plane falling out of the sky. Fortunately, the pilot landed safely.
The pilot error was for failing to maintain airspeed and proper weight and balance, the NTSB said.
“The pilot lost control, and there was structural damage to the airplane, to the horizontal stabilizer, to the tail section,” NTSB spokeswoman Jennifer Homendy said.
The agency now is investigating whether or not the plane was airworthy.
Asawa said he will pay close attention to see if something could have been done to prevent last week’s tragedy.
“I’m hoping it was not the same issue, and I’m also hoping all the repairs that were done to the plane were done with the utmost quality,” he said.
The NTSB is asking for anyone else who traveled on that plane and took pictures in the past two years to contact them.
A preliminary report on the Hawaii crash could be finished in two weeks, but the final report, including the cause of the crash, could take two years to complete.
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Bay-Area-Skydiver-Recalls-2016-Mishap-on-Same-Plane-in-Deadly-Hawaii-Crash-511766811.html.