The Federal Aviation Administration said there was heavy rain early Sunday morning when a Star Marianas Piper Cherokee Six aircraft crashed on Tinian, killing three and seriously injuring four people.
FAA Air Traffic Manager Marianas Tim Cornelison, in an interview with Guam-based PNC News, said there was significant weather reported in the channel between Saipan and Tinian.
“The aircraft contacted Saipan tower and asked what the weather was and was told there was weather in the channel. In northern Tinian they have the Voices of America tower and in the antenna they have incredible strobe lights and, as reported from the Saipan tower, you could not see the lights on the Voice of America tower,” said Cornelison.
He also confirmed that prior to the deadly crash on Sunday, Star Marianas was also involved in two other mishaps.
“At 3:30 to 4 o’clock Friday afternoon, a Cessna 172 that is owned and operated by Star Marianas had departed the Tinian airport and it was reported to me that it lost power and landed on a roadway on Tinian. No injures and three passengers. No damage to the plane.”
The Guam-based FAA official also said that the incident on Saturday involved the pilot of the ill-fated flight Sunday, Luis Silva.
“It was taxiing out of departure on its way to Saipan and missed the turn on the taxiway and ran across the grass area and [the] aircraft ended up on a concrete-enforced drainage ditch and there was damage to the aircraft on that incident…It was reported to me that the pilot was sent for alcohol and drug testing which I believe is the normal [procedure]…It was reported me by the Commonwealth Ports Authority that it was the same pilot from the Saturday incident,” said Cornelison, referring to Silva.