Maui News

FAA honors Mokulele crew for life-saving rescue in Hāna, Maui

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The Federal Aviation Administration honored two Mokulele pilots who helped rescue two other individuals from a plane that crashed after takeoff from the Hāna Airport on Jan. 15, 2022.

The two Mokulele pilots, Capt. Eric Memmott and First Officer Nate McBride, led life-saving rescue efforts following the crash of a privately-owned general aviation aircraft. The FAA Safety Commendation and a proclamation from the state was presented in a public ceremony at Mokulele’s Terminal 3 in Honolulu on Monday afternoon.

Memmott and McBride were deplaning passengers at the Hāna Airport when they noticed the general aviation aircraft taking off. They witnessed the plane climb to approximately 250 feet before the private pilot lost control and the plane crashed into a wooded area nearby. The Mokulele crew members immediately went into action, enlisting the help of pilots working for Skydive Hāna.

First Officer Nate McBride (left) is one of two Mokulele employees honored for a life-saving rescue effort in East Maui. He shakes the hand of Keith Sisson, chief marketing officer, Southern Airways Corp. PC: courtesy Mokulele Airlines / Facebook.

The Mokulele crew trekked through the dense forest while Skydive Hāna communicated an aerial report of the crash site to the ground. Upon reaching the aircraft, the crew recognized that the sole passenger had exited the aircraft while the pilot was pinned inside. After disengaging the plane’s electrical system to avoid a potential fire, the crew waited with the pilot for fire and rescue units to respond, while guiding them to the remote scene.

Hāna plane crash. PC: Maui Fire Department

The private plane pilot and passenger of the downed craft were rushed to the hospital for medical treatment. Both survived the ordeal.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our crew’s heroic effort,” said Stan Little, chairman and CEO of Southern Airways (Mokulele’s parent company). “So many times, events like this end badly. Thanks in no small part to our crew, these folks will live to fly another day.”

“I was left very inspired by how everyone worked together to coordinate and rescue the pilots – even with the potential danger to themselves,” said Mokulele Capt. Eric Memmott. “I believe with the quick response and action of everyone involved (Honolulu Center, search and rescue, firefighters, and EMT) we can look back with relief that the outcome was positive from a potentially tragic event.”


“I am honored to receive this recognition, not just for myself, but for every member of the Mokulele team,” said First Officer Nate McBride. “I hope our action on that day serves as a good example for others to always help those in need.”

Following the rescue, the crew returned to their daily airline duties transporting passengers from Hāna to Kahului in time to make their connecting flight to Hawaiian Airlines.

This is the second commendation for a Mokulele crew in the last year. In 2021, a pilot instructor and student miraculously survived after ditching their aircraft in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Lānaʻi. In that event, a Mokulele Airlines crew and passengers spotted the wreckage and aided in the sunset rescue.


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