Stormy weather near Nome apparently caused the pilot of a commuter airplane with five passengers to fly the craft into the ground while approaching the area, Alaska State Troopers said Friday.
The Frontier Flying Service aircraft went down about eight miles northeast of Nome about 6:20 p.m. Thursday as it was preparing to land on a routine flight from Brevig Mission.
That's when the pilot, Harland Hannon, last contacted personnel in Nome with flight information and reported the airplane was inbound.
When Frontier Flying Service flight 8218 didn't show up and couldn't be reached on the radio, a Nome Volunteer Fire Department Search and Rescue crew and troopers took snowmachines to the area, troopers said.
In the shadow of Newton Peak, searchers found a light and found the aircraft, along with the pilot and passengers all in good condition, troopers said. They were taken to Norton Sound Hospital for evaluation.
They only reported minor injuries, but two of them were admitted into care at the hospital, troopers said.
The aircraft deployed an emergency locator beacon, which searchers picked up on, said NTSB investigator Clint Johnson, who was beginning an investigation into the crash today.
A state trooper along with personnel from the Nome Fire Department and Nome Search and Rescue conducted what troopers characterized as "an extensive ground search" for the plane using snowmachines. Evergreen Aviation also launched a helicopter to assist in locating the flight but was forced to turn back because of weather, troopers said.
The National Weather Service reported cloudy skies and winds blowing west-southwest at 10 mph Thursday night.
"We're going to work with the FAA and NTSB, and we will release details as we can confirm them on how this occurred, but we are more than happy that we've got six healthy bodies here," said Jim Hajdukovich, Frontier president.
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.