A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service floatplane crashed in Lake Spenard Sunday afternoon, and the pilot -- the sole occupant -- made her own way out to safety, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Clint Johnson, chief of the Alaska region for the safety board, said he spoke briefly to the pilot, who was shaken up by the ordeal but didn't suffer physical injuries. "Just cold and wet," he said.
He declined to identify her, saying the safety board doesn't release pilot's names. The agency is investigating the crash of the turboprop Kodiak, an amphibious plane with both floats and wheels manufactured by Quest Aircraft Co.
"What she said is after touchdown she felt a grabbing of one of the floats," Johnson said. "The next thing she knew, the plane was cart-wheeling upside down."
He didn't yet know how she escaped the plane underwater. Two nearby planes started up and came to her aid, helping her to shore, he said. Johnson said he plans to conduct a more in-depth interview Monday and also to inspect the plane, which he said appears to have been seriously damaged.
The amphibious plane is leaking fuel and under water. It was surrounded by containment boom on Sunday afternoon.
The NTSB will examine it after the Department of Interior, which includes the Fish and Wildlife Service, hauls it out of the water and into its hangar.
The pilot had dropped off a crew on the Kenai Peninsula and was returning to Anchorage when she lost control trying to land in the east-west water lanes, Johnson said.
Lake Spenard is part of the busy Lake Hood float plane basin. On its website, Quest describes the Kodiak as a top performer in difficult conditions.
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