HONOLULU -- The search for a twin-engine commuter plane missing with eight people aboard was called off yesterday. A newspaper reported that the pilot had been having trouble with his door before the plane vanished.
"The Coast Guard is suspending all its search activities, pending some new findings or developments," said Petty Officer Christopher Kimbrough at the Coast Guard's Joint Rescue Coordination Center here.
More than three days of searching between Oahu and Molokai and along the shores of both islands turned up no trace of the Panorama Air plane, which was on a scheduled 22-minute, 50-mile flight from Honolulu to Molokai when it disappeared Wednesday night.
Passengers who rode the Piper Chieftain during a sightseeing tour of the islands earlier Wednesday said pilot Steve Baayoun had trouble getting his door to lock securely, the Honolulu Advertiser reported yesterday.
Baayoun, 27, was flying the plane when it disappeared from radar 3 1/2 miles west of Molokai, authorities said.
Federal Aviation Administration investigator Steve Dahlen told the Advertiser he had not been informed of any trouble with the door latch on the prior flight.
Panorama Air commuter planes have been involved in three crashes that killed 19 people since the company began operations as an inter-island carrier and air tour service in 1971.