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Spokane woman missing in Hawaii crash

Wed., Feb. 16, 2011, 2:48 p.m.

HONOLULU — Kauai County has identified the 49-year-old female passenger on board a powered hang glider that crashed off Kauai’s south shore as Kim Buergel of Spokane.

Crews are still searching for Buergel and the pilot of the ultralight plane that went down Tuesday. The plane was owned by tour operator Big Sky Kauai. The company’s owner, 55-year-old Jim Gaither of Hanapepe, was piloting the aircraft.

Lifeguards from Poipu found what appeared to be wreckage and an oil slick in the water. The Coast Guard said the pilot and passenger were believed to be wearing life vests, but no sign of them was reported.

The Kauai Fire Department said overcast skies and low water visibility made Tuesday’s search “extremely difficult.”

The search was focused on an area 200 yards off the coast near Poipu.

Big Sky Kauai’s website said the company offers flying lessons on a powered hang glider called a “trike.” The company has two of the planes, which it described as “the simplest and possibly the safest aircraft ever built.”


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