Plane crash is second in a year for Hawaii tour operator

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HILO, Hawaii -- A visitor from Oklahoma was missing and eight people were plucked from the ocean alive after their sightseeing plane crashed here.

The Aug. 25 accident was the second in a year for tour operator Big Island Air and the second sightseeing flight to crash in Hawaii in a little more than a month.

The 10-passenger Piper Chieftan Navajo was on a 90-minute tour of the island when it crashed into the water about 200 yards off shore, according to Hilo police.

Local press reports quoted witnesses who said the plane was on fire before it crashed.

Seven passengers and the pilot were taken to Hilo Medical Center after being pulled out of the water, police said. A 61-year-old woman from Oklahoma who was on the flight with her husband was missing.

On Sept. 25, 1999, nine passengers and a pilot were killed when the same type of aircraft from Big Island Air crashed on Mauna Loa.

Just more than a month ago, six passengers and a pilot were killed when a sightseeing helicopter on Maui operated by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters crashed into a mountain.

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