Honolulu, HI Skydiving Plane Crash, Dec 1981


Honolulu (AP) -- An airplane taking skydivers to a football game jump sputtered and spun into Pearl Harbor near the USS Arizona Memorial, officials said. Eleven of the 12 people believed to be aboard were killed.
One man was pulled alive from the harbor by three men who saw the plane go down.
Authorities first were told 13 people were aboard by the man who was found alive. Later, other members of the Jump Hawaii sports parachutist club said 12 were aboard, a Navy spokesman said.
However, a search was continuing Sunday in case the first report proved accurate, said Jerry Lambert of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base.
Club vice president Stephen Fischel identified three of those aboard the twin-engine Beechcraft as club president BYRON BLACK and two of his sons, DANNY, who was piloting the aircraft, and BOBBY.
Six bodies were recovered Saturday night by Navy and Coast Guard rescue crews and taken to the city morgue. Five bodies were discovered Sunday, the Navy said.
No names were released by authorities.
Search operations had been suspended at 1:45 a.m.Sunday because the shallow waters in the area posed a danger to boats, said Richard Rothrock, deputy public affairs officer for the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Searchers were sent out again at daybreak.
The parachutists were scheduled to jump into nearby Aloha Stadium before the start of a football game between the University of Hawaii and the University of South Carolina.
Ten minutes before the 7:10 p.m. crash, the plane contacted the control tower at Honolulu International Airport for the last time, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman George Miyachi.
The pilot radioed he was climbing to 3,500 feet in preparation for the jump, Miyachi said.
Nolin Brede, who helped pull MIKE SALMONS from the water, said he saw the plane coming down in a spin and its "motors were reved up real high" when it hit.
The plane crashed into 3 1/2 feet of water on a reef near Fort Island, about 250 yards from the USS Arizona Memorial to those who died there during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Rothrock said there was speculation that the pilot of the plane may have been trying to land on the island.
By the time Brede and his friends reached the wreckage, only the tail of the plane was visible, he said.
SALMONS, 34, was picked up about 25 yards from the wreckage and taken to a hospital for treatment of a broken leg.
"I decided I didn't want to stay in there. The others decided to stay with the plane. It did all kinds of crazy stuff," said SALMONS, who said he was sitting closest to the door.
"I jumped and three others also jumped," the veteran diver said in a telephone interview from his hospital bed, but those who followed him did not have enough altitude left to deploy their chutes.

Wisconsin State Journal Madison 1984-12-07

List of Casualties:
BYRON BLACK, club president.
DANNY BLACK, pilot, and Byron's son.
BOBBY BLACK, Byron's son.


Helping with rescue

I was stationed aboard the TWR-6 USS Ferret at sub base. I actually had duty the evening of the crash. I was sitting outside at the boathouse when we noticed the plane circling and all of a sudden the planes engines stopped and the plane started spinning into a nosedive. I could see the one diver jump and then it crashed. We jumped on a small craft and went out to the plane. We waited for the dive team to get to the site. We brought the bodies, from the dive team onto our boat and took them to Ford field. That event still haunts me to this day. The family's are in my prayers always.
Terry McKay

terrible tragedy

Sheryl, so sorry for your loss. I happened to be on Ford Island that fateful evening in the US Navy reservists. We got the call shortly after 1900 HST to help assist with a plane crash. I remember that we could only see the tail of the aircraft, and that it was in such shallow water that we thought nobody could have survived, to find out later that several members parachuted before impact. I still remember this like it was yesterday. Again very sorry for you losses.

Missed This

Sorry this is so late. I was one of those that used to jump with the Blacks. I have camped out over the weekends and spent time drinking "coffee" with Byron and just talking as 2 old soldiers will do.
On her 40th birthday, I took my wife to the field, showed her the stone and that day she made her 1st jump. The next year I took my son (20) and daughter (21) to the field and they made their 1st jumps.
Byron was a proud Texas Aggie, a great flyer, and a wonderful gentleman.
He will be missed.

skydiver plane crash

i was at the stadium that night of the incident. i still can recall when the plane made a pass over the field. may heart goes out to those who died and i will definitely visit the memory next time i visit hawaii zw

Drew Hurley - Thank You

Just thought about this event again today. Thank you for your kind words. Even though I know what you say is true, it is still hard to think back to that night 34 years ago today and watching those friends of yours that only God himself could have saved plunge to their deaths. Thank you as well for your service. And, God bless you!


Byron was my uncle - he used to call me "Jellybean". His remaining sons told me that their ashes were scattered at sea, but never before have I heard such a detailed and heart warming description of the memorial. I wish I could've been there, but you've given me a memorable glimpse into what I missed. I can't thank you enough for a new cherished memory. I adored them all and miss them greatly.

Crash in Pearl Harbor

Byron was my uncle. In one night I lost an uncle and two cousins I loved dearly. There was nothing any of you could've done. From the bottom of my heart I appreciate how hard you all tried to help. It was just a tragic accident. I was on my way to work in Texas when I heard a report on the radio. I got chills thinking it might be them but hoped it was not. Shortly after I arrived at work, my boss told me I had a phone call. When I heard my mother's voice, I started shaking because I knew what was coming. It had a profound impact on everyone involved, but we try to take comfort in the fact that they lived life large, and died doing what they loved.

Pearl Harbor crash

Knew you when I was in Hawaii in the late '70's. The loss of our friends was traumatic but your having to identify the bodies at Ford Island would have been the worst. You told me all this in '86 when I met you, Flip, and GW at the World Skydiving Convention in Illinois. Charlie Knaebel and I served together at 21st Infantry 25th ID at Schofield and he was my best friend. Drew, hope all goes well with you these days wherever you are. We'll always remember our friends, won't we?
Richard Baker
D-14235 POPS# 3668

Jump Hawaii accident

Started at Byron Black's operation at Dillingham on 16 July 1977. Jumped the Twin Beech which crashed into Pearl Harbor many times and remember when Byron flew it in from California. He lost everything but an HF radio on the way and the Coast Guard sent a C-130 to lead him back. I was in Florida when a friend asked me if I'd heard of the crash. Called Bobby Sammis and he confirmed it all for me. Knew all on the aircraft and cried for an hour that all my friends were gone. Mike Salmon, the only survivor was also a friend. Sad day for skydiving in Hawaii and I think of my friends often. Blue skies!
Richard Baker
D-14235 POPS# 3668

David, I just saw your

David, I just saw your December post about the crash. I was a jumper and long-time friend of most of the men on board the plane. Being in the Hawaii Air Guard at the time and in uniform, I was able to get out to Ford Island not long after the crash to try and identify those who died. Please be absolutely assured that there was nothing that you or anyone could have done for them whether you were nearer to the crash site or not. Thank you for your service, your thoughts and your prayers.