HONOLULU (AP) — Two people died Tuesday on Kauai in the crash of a motorized, seated hang glider owned by a company that markets itself to visiting travelers even though federal regulations prohibit the aircraft from being used for tours or thrill rides.
The identities of the victims aren't known, Kauai County said in a statement.
The light sport aircraft crashed on the side of a mountain near Polihale Beach, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. The site is in Waiakamoo Valley below Kokee in the western part of Kauai, the county said.
The aircraft — an Evolution Trikes Revo — is registered to Birds in Paradise LLC, a company that advertises scenic flights for tourists billed as introductory flight lessons rather than aerial tours. A message left on the company's answering machine was not immediately returned Tuesday.
A caller notified police dispatch of a fire in the area Tuesday morning. An initial investigation revealed the fire was caused by the crash.
Police were helping firefighters secure the scene while officials investigate the cause of the crash, the county said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. Two FAA investigators are en route to Kauai, Gregor said.
FAA regulations prohibit the type of aircraft that crashed from being rented out for tours or thrill rides. The regulations allow commercial use of light sport aircraft only for flight training or to tow a glider or an unpowered ultralight aircraft.
FAA regulators met with Hawaii operators of similar aircraft after a series of five crashes, three fatal, between April 2010 and May 2011. Nick Reyes, flight standards manager of the FAA's Western-Pacific division, said at the time that operators needed to follow rules that distinguish flight instruction from air tours.
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