Out of gas: Ultralight trike exhausted fuel before crash

  • The ultralight trike that crashed March 20 at Kukio is pictured. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — An ultralight trike ran out of fuel as it soared 1,300 feet above the Kona Coast before crashing March 20 at Kukio, federal investigators report.

The National Transportation Safety Board released on April 8 its aviation accident factual report of the incident that occurred about 10 a.m., sending the 45-year-old pilot to the hospital with cuts, scrapes and bruises while his passenger walked away with a black eye.

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The pilot, Charles Blaylock, of Kailua-Kona, told investigators that he departed Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole about 8:45 a.m. for a personal flight with a friend aboard his Air Creation, Tanarg. The board’s report listed the friend as a resident of Houston.

Prior to take-off, Blaylock performed his preflight inspection, which included checking the fuel level. He had approximately 6 gallons, which he said should have been enough to cover the anticipated one-hour flight. The aircraft typically consumes about 3 gallons per hour.

The weather was also good with some scattered clouds but no precipitation, according to the report.

The flight took the duo north from the airport along the shoreline, at varying altitudes, including “buzzing over the water and climbing above the clouds,” the pilot told investigators. Upon reaching the Mauna Kea Resort area in South Kohala, Blaylock turned the aircraft around to head south back to the airport.

However, when he was about 6 miles north of the airport — over the Kukio area — at an altitude of 1,300 feet, the engine died, he said.

“While looking for a potential landing zone I attempted to restart it a couple more times; it did not restart. Rather than make an attempt at ditching into the water I made an effort to glide to a small soccer field while continuing to scan the area for a road or suitable landing area,” Blaylock reported. “The aircraft made impact with the ground approximately 15 yards short of the small soccer field.”

The impact occurred in a lava field, and the aircraft ended up resting against a large propane tank. There was no fire or explosion.

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“I exited the aircraft and assisted Stephen out and away from the wreckage,” Blaylock reported. “First responders were on location. Emergency service personnel were on site in a matter of minutes.”

After being treated and released from the hospital, Blaylock returned to the site to inspect the fuel tank. He found no sign of a leak, which was the same as relayed by first responders to West Hawaii Today shortly after the crash.

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