Captain Christopher Kaines...his plane crash is shrouded in mystery
While all attention is focused on the Aug 11 Airlines PNG Twin Otter crash which killed 13 people, another crash over the Kokoda Trail last year almost exactly a year ago to the date, remains uninvestigated.
Several unanswered questions surround the death of pilot Chris Kaines, from Gassam village on Siassi Island, Morobe province, who died in a mysterious Cessna 206 plane crash in the mountains of Myola, along the Kokoda Trail, on Thursday, August 7, 2008, on the way to Yongai in Goilala.
There are several unanswered questions as to the flight plan given to the Civil Aviation Authority, the air worthiness of the Cessna, why the operator disappeared after since the death of Kaines, is there any truth that he was carrying mercury and a large amount of money when he crashed, and many more, including questions on the involvement of certain groups and individuals.
On remote Siassi Island, they continue to grieve the loss of a bright and ambitious son who soared over the skies of Papua New Guinea like an eagle.
Their commercial pilot son perished in a light-plane crash a year ago and yet PNG’s aviation regulators had failed to examine why the crash had occurred.
They wanted answers and there were none.
Ironically, this weekend, Kaines’ haus krai (house of mourning) at Waigani will be removed, as is customary, after a year of mourning, and at a time when Australia and PNG are still reeling from last week’s Kokoda crash.
Journalist New Cuthbert, who is the late pilot’s brother-in-law, said: “In fact, this weekend, I will get rid of the haus krai.
“I have allowed the missus to mourn her brother for 12 months and last month, she told me that yes, her tears have dried, and Chris’ body has become bones in the ground.
“I will make a traditional feast for my brother’s in-law so that laughter and merriment can return to us.
“I will also walk the Kokoda trail with Minister Chris Chris Abel and pass by the land where Chris went down, and from those peaks, I will fulfill the age old custom of my people to say to Chris: ‘It is done you can really rest in peace’.”
Reporters probing the crash last year hit a brick wall at CAA when trying to get information on the crash.
Kaines was a very experienced aviator, whose feats are the stuff of legend, including busting gun smuggling operations in Western province with police, once landing on the Hiritano Highway when his engine failed, who in 2006 year flew a private plane from the USA to PNG, and whose ambition in life was to buy his own plane and run a charter operation.
The procedure for a flight plan is:
- Each aircraft prior to departure to a destination needs to produce a flight plan to flight services of the CAA for approval;
- The flight plan states the flight, pilot, and all relevant details like destination;
- The control tower is responsible for clearing the aircraft for take off and monitors its flight to and from its destination; and
- If the aircraft fails to report, the tower raises the alarm and CAA organises the rescue.
In the case of Kaines:
- He himself did not produce the flight plan but somebody may have and deliberately changed details so as to have CAA approve the flight;
- The aircraft used was one that was used by trainee pilots;
- The operator (named) did have an airworthy certificate issued against the particular aircraft;
- It was to train pilots so whoever produced the flight plan stated himself as the flight instructor and Kaines as trainee in order to get approval; and
- No aircraft and pilot under instruction is authorised to carry passenger and cargo.
“(Named operator) was to have flown the aircraft himself as per the flight plan,” a source said.
“His name may have appeared as the pilot but let Chris (Kaines) on this flight alone.
“That is why when the aircraft crashed, information out of Civil Aviation stated that the aircraft had as flight instructor an expatriate and a PNG trainee pilot.
“Chris spells his name as Chris Kaines, which is very foreign indeed
“”But (named operator) never took that flight and according to the flight plan he was supposed to do so.
“We learnt this from Chris’s wife”
“The bottom line is that (named operator) deceived Chris and deliberately misled Civil Aviation into approving the flight plan and get clearance to make the flight.
“We now know Chris had already made several flights into the area before the crash.
“On the one before the crash, he reported a faulty radio.
“This was brought to the attention of a particular engineer with Hevi Lift who questioned this aircraft to which he was to install the radio.
“When he did he was told it was the one sitting at Nadzab because of some legal complication.
“But then he was also told that it belonged to Northwest Air.”
A year on, these and many other questions remain unanswered.