Fatality reported after Alaska midair crash; 1 pilot safe
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A midair collision Wednesday sent a small airplane plummeting into Alaska’s Susitna River, killing a person on board.
The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed one fatality in the crash north of Anchorage, Alaska. The pilot of the second airplane made a safe emergency landing at an Anchorage airport.
Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB Alaska regional office, said multiple callers contacted Alaska State Troopers after the collision shortly after noon.
“He indicated that as he was headed back to Anchorage, he saw an airplane that was basically nose-to-nose with him,” Johnson said. “He was able to pull up, but subsequently his landing gear struck the airplane.”
The impact severed the nose cone of the second airplane.
The surviving pilot, flying a Cessna 175, landed on a dirt landing strip at Lake Hood Seaplane Base, part of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the city’s main airport, shortly before 1 p.m.
The pilot had departed from a remote fishing site and was flying over the Susitna River in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
The second pilot was not injured, Erich Scheunemann said, an assistant chief for the Anchorage Fire Department, which responded to the emergency landing.
The first airplane fell immediately. Johnson said the second pilot circled and used his radio to contact another pilot and summon assistance before flying on to Anchorage.
Emergency responders spotted wreckage of the first airplane partially submerged in the Susitna River where it flows into the saltwater of Knik Arm. Some debris landed on shore.
The wrecked plane was another “high-wing” Cessna, possibly in the 206 or 207 series, Johnson said.
The NTSB by mid-afternoon had not confirmed whether the pilot was the only person on board or details of the pilot’s departure and destination. The name of the person confirmed dead was not immediately released because next of kin had not been notified.
Johnson said Brice Banning, an NTSB senior aircraft accident investigator, was traveling from Fairbanks to the crash site to determine how to salvage the wreckage and investigate the crash.