An airplane using the Alaska Highway as a runway struck a truck near Tok as it was taking off from a stop for repairs, Alaska State Troopers said Friday.
Troopers say they were summoned to Mile 1304 of the highway about 12 p.m. Thursday to a report of a "motor vehicle versus aircraft crash."
The pilot of the Taylorcraft BC12-D, James R. Bollerud, 52, reported to the National Transportation Safety Board that he landed on the highway to figure out why the aircraft engine was running rough -- he suspected it was because his fuel was contaminated, NTSB investigator Larry Lewis said.
Bollerud, of Naknek, earlier stopped in Glennallen to reload with fuel he had aboard in containers, but apparently had forgotten his filter, he said.
Bollerud had been heading to a private airstrip in Tok, just a few miles away from the scene of the impromptu landing, and people waiting for him there came to help while he drained some of the suspected contaminated fuel, he said.
The road, a long, straight stretch of highway, had been cleared of traffic by those helping Bollerud, but on the side of the road were the vehicles of his helpers.
"In his attempt to take off afterwards, he misjudged the distance between the edge of the road and a truck that was parked on the side of the road," Lewis said. "He managed on take-off to clip the rack on the truck with his left wing, which spun him off to the side of the road."
The truck, which was driven by Wasilla resident Colton W. Guard, 25, was apparently not damaged; the blow didn't even chip the paint on the truck's rack, Lewis said.
But the airplane's wing was substantially damaged, its forward edge crushed in the impact, he said. The main structural support for the wing may also have been bent, rendering the airplane unflyable, Lewis said.
Troopers reported that there were no injuries. They cited Bollerud for failure to exercise due care to avoid a collision.
The NTSB was continuing its investigation of the crash.
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.