NTSB: Choke Lever Contributed to Kauai Crash

August 20, 2012

The National Transportation Safety Board says a 2011 hang glider crash in Kauai, Hawaii, that killed two people was probably caused by the flight instructor not maintaining control at low altitude, contributed by an inadvertent application of the choke lever.

According to the NTSB probable cause report, the inadvertent application of the choke resulted in a momentary interruption of engine power. That led to the pilot losing control of the aircraft while maneuvering at low altitude. The NTSB couldn’t determine whether the choke was activated by the flight instructor or the student.

Pilot Jim Gaither and passenger Kim Buergel, of Spokane, Wash., were killed in the Feb. 15, 2011 crash. The wreckage of the powered glider was recovered six days later.

Gaither’s company, Big Sky Kauai, owned the aircraft.

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