On Friday, former Vail, CO resident, and avid snowboarder Casey Williamson was among 11 killed when their skydiving plane crashed and burned at a coastal airfield on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It was the worst civilian aviation accident in the US since 2011.
29-year-old Williamson, who was from Yukon, Oklahoma, worked as an instructor and as a videographer who filmed customers as they dove. He was trying to earn more jumping hours and learn the trade, Mendenhall said.
No one aboard survived the crash, which left a small pile of smoky wreckage near the chain link fence surrounding Dillingham Airfield about an hour north of Honolulu.
Steven Tickemyer said he saw the plane take flight, get 75 to 100 feet off the ground and turn away from the mountain range nearby. He said the plane then started to nosedive and flip over belly forward so that it was upside down. The aircraft then flipped over again and hit the ground nose first. There was an explosion when it hit the ground. He and his friends hopped in his truck, called 911 and drove over to help. They screamed to see if anyone would respond, but no one did, he said.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation tweeted Saturday that officials later “confirmed there were 11 people on board the plane” and no survivors. They were not identified.
The flight was operated by the Oahu Parachute Center skydiving company. The ratio of employees to customers aboard suggested that tandem jumps may have been planned in which the customers would have jumped while attached to experienced skydivers, Tim Sakahara, a spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, told reporters.