Family escapes Lake Spenard plane crash

LAKE SPENARD: Gust hit craft just after it left the water.

June 7, 2009 

An airport police officer and National Transportation Safety Board investigator Howard Plagens walk past a de Havilland Beaver that crashed during a takeoff at Lake Hood Seaplane Base in Anchorage June 7, 2009. Everyone on board the floatplane walked away from the crash.


A de Havilland Beaver carrying a family of four and two dogs crashed moments after takeoff from Lake Spenard on Sunday afternoon, according to a federal investigator.

The pilot, his wife, two boys and the pets were uninjured but they were "shaken pretty good," said the investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The suspected cause of the accident, shortly before 2 p.m., was a strong gust of wind that apparently pushed the Beaver hard to the left; the pilot couldn't climb out of it before hitting ground next to a Lake Hood canal, said Howard Plagens, the NTSB investigator.

After the plane hit the ground, it crashed through a boundary fence and spun around on the grass next to the parking lot of the Alaska Department of Transportation office building, according to Plagens.

"He hit it just right not to have any injuries," Plagens said. "We are all very happy with that," he added.

Plagens said the pilot told him that there were no mechanical issues with his plane and liftoff was normal until the gust of wind struck the plane.

Its floats torn nearly off, the plane sat crumpled on the grass next to the DOT parking lot throughout the afternoon while the pilot tried with difficulty to find someone -- on a nice Sunday afternoon -- to haul it away, Plagens said.

The NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration are both investigating the crash and will decide whether further follow-up is necessary, he said.

If the federal agencies end up agreeing with the pilot that the accident didn't result from mechanical problems, they NTSB will issue a final accident report within 30 days, Plagens said.

Find Elizabeth Bluemink online at or call 257-4317.

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