AD Main Menu

No witness, recorders to aid NTSB probe of Soldotna crash

Michelle Theriault Boots
National Transportation Safety Board investigators on the scene of Sunday's plane crash in Soldotna that killed 10.
NTSB photo
A National Transportation Safety Board investigator on the scene of Sunday's plane crash in Soldotna that killed 10.
NTSB photo
A neighbor holds a 2012 Christmas card showing Mills Antonakos, left, Olivia Antonakos, center, and Anastacia Antonakos, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Greenville, S.C. The three children died, along with their parents and four members of another family in a plane crash while they were on vacation in Alaska.
Jeffrey Collins
A small memorial appears Tuesday July 9, 2013 near the site of a plane crash that killed 10 people at the Soldotna Airport in Soldotna, Alaska last Sunday, July 7, 2013.
Rashah McChesney
National Transportation and Safety Board go-team members examine the remains of an aircraft wreck on Monday, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska. The de Havilland DHC3 Otter crashed and burned Sunday, July 7, 2013 at the airport in Soldotna, about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. The plane had just taken off and apparently was en route to a fishing lodge, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson. All ten people aboard were killed. (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, Rashah McChesney)
Rashah McChesney
National Transportation and Safety Board go-team members examine the remains of an aircraft wreck on Monday, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska. The de Havilland DHC3 Otter crashed and burned Sunday, July 7, 2013 at the airport in Soldotna, about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. The plane had just taken off and apparently was en route to a fishing lodge, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson. All ten people aboard were killed. (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, Rashah McChesney)
Rashah McChesney
courtesy The State (Columbia, S.C.) Dr. Chris McManus, right, and his wife, Stacey, of Greenville, South Carolina were among those killed in a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter plane crash Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Soldotna.
courtesy The State (Columbia, S.C.)
The flag was at half-staff at the Rediske Air office on Monday, July 8, 2013 in Nikiski.
LISA DEMER
NTSB and FAA investigators comb over the de Havilland DHC-3 Otter crash site Monday afternoon, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna. The national NTSB "go-team" arrived early in the evening to take charge of the investigation.
LISA DEMER
Dan Bower, NTSB lead investigator on Sunday's de Havilland DHC-3 Otter crash, tells reporters about the process Monday, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna.
LISA DEMER
Both wings were ripped off the Otter when it crashed and much of the plane was damaged by the fire that erupted, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener told reporters on Monday evening, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna.
LISA DEMER
NTSB representative Earl Weener speaks to the media in Anchorage on Monday, July 8, 2013, about the investigation into the fatal airplane crash in Soldotna on Sunday.
Bill Roth
NTSB and FAA investigators comb over the de Havilland DHC-3 Otter crash site Monday afternoon, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna. The national NTSB "go-team" arrived early in the evening to take charge of the investigation.
LISA DEMER
NTSB investigators answer questions Monday evening July 8, 2013 at the Soldotna airport.
LISA DEMER
This de Havilland DHC-3 Otter airplane operated by Rediske Air in Nikiski crashed at 11:20 a.m. at the Soldotna Airport on Sunday, July 7, 2013, killing 10 people including the pilot.
unknown
Investigators examine the remains of a fixed-wing aircraft that was engulfed in flames Sunday July 7, 2013 at the Soldotna Airport in Soldotna, Alaska. Authorities say an air taxi has crashed, killing all 10 people on board. The plane was operated by Rediske Air, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rashah McChesney
Investigators look at the remains of a fixed-wing aircraft that was engulfed in flames Sunday July 7, 2013 at the Soldotna Airport in Soldotna, Alaska. Authorities say an air taxi has crashed, killing all 10 people on board. The plane was operated by Rediske Air, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rashah McChesney
Police and emergency personnel stand near the remains of a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter that was engulfed in flames Sunday July 7, 2013 at the Soldotna Airport in Soldotna, Alaska. Authorities say an air taxi has crashed, killing all 10 people on board. The plane was operated by Rediske Air, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rashah McChesney
National Transportation Safety Board investigators on the scene of Sunday's plane crash in Soldotna that killed 10.
NTSB photo
A National Transportation Safety Board investigator on the scene of Sunday's plane crash in Soldotna that killed 10.
NTSB photo
A neighbor holds a 2012 Christmas card showing Mills Antonakos, left, Olivia Antonakos, center, and Anastacia Antonakos, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Greenville, S.C. The three children died, along with their parents and four members of another family in a plane crash while they were on vacation in Alaska.
Jeffrey Collins
A small memorial appears Tuesday July 9, 2013 near the site of a plane crash that killed 10 people at the Soldotna Airport in Soldotna, Alaska last Sunday, July 7, 2013.
Rashah McChesney
National Transportation and Safety Board go-team members examine the remains of an aircraft wreck on Monday, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska. The de Havilland DHC3 Otter crashed and burned Sunday, July 7, 2013 at the airport in Soldotna, about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. The plane had just taken off and apparently was en route to a fishing lodge, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson. All ten people aboard were killed. (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, Rashah McChesney)
Rashah McChesney
National Transportation and Safety Board go-team members examine the remains of an aircraft wreck on Monday, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska. The de Havilland DHC3 Otter crashed and burned Sunday, July 7, 2013 at the airport in Soldotna, about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. The plane had just taken off and apparently was en route to a fishing lodge, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson. All ten people aboard were killed. (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, Rashah McChesney)
Rashah McChesney
courtesy The State (Columbia, S.C.) Dr. Chris McManus, right, and his wife, Stacey, of Greenville, South Carolina were among those killed in a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter plane crash Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Soldotna.
courtesy The State (Columbia, S.C.)
The flag was at half-staff at the Rediske Air office on Monday, July 8, 2013 in Nikiski.
LISA DEMER
NTSB and FAA investigators comb over the de Havilland DHC-3 Otter crash site Monday afternoon, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna. The national NTSB "go-team" arrived early in the evening to take charge of the investigation.
LISA DEMER
Dan Bower, NTSB lead investigator on Sunday's de Havilland DHC-3 Otter crash, tells reporters about the process Monday, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna.
LISA DEMER
Both wings were ripped off the Otter when it crashed and much of the plane was damaged by the fire that erupted, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener told reporters on Monday evening, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna.
LISA DEMER
NTSB representative Earl Weener speaks to the media in Anchorage on Monday, July 8, 2013, about the investigation into the fatal airplane crash in Soldotna on Sunday.
Bill Roth
NTSB and FAA investigators comb over the de Havilland DHC-3 Otter crash site Monday afternoon, July 8, 2013 in Soldotna. The national NTSB "go-team" arrived early in the evening to take charge of the investigation.
LISA DEMER
NTSB investigators answer questions Monday evening July 8, 2013 at the Soldotna airport.
LISA DEMER
This de Havilland DHC-3 Otter airplane operated by Rediske Air in Nikiski crashed at 11:20 a.m. at the Soldotna Airport on Sunday, July 7, 2013, killing 10 people including the pilot.
unknown
Investigators examine the remains of a fixed-wing aircraft that was engulfed in flames Sunday July 7, 2013 at the Soldotna Airport in Soldotna, Alaska. Authorities say an air taxi has crashed, killing all 10 people on board. The plane was operated by Rediske Air, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rashah McChesney
Investigators look at the remains of a fixed-wing aircraft that was engulfed in flames Sunday July 7, 2013 at the Soldotna Airport in Soldotna, Alaska. Authorities say an air taxi has crashed, killing all 10 people on board. The plane was operated by Rediske Air, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rashah McChesney
Police and emergency personnel stand near the remains of a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter that was engulfed in flames Sunday July 7, 2013 at the Soldotna Airport in Soldotna, Alaska. Authorities say an air taxi has crashed, killing all 10 people on board. The plane was operated by Rediske Air, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rashah McChesney

No eyewitnesses, "black box" data recorder or surveillance video captured the crash of an air taxi at the airport in Soldotna on Sunday that killed 10, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said at a press briefing in Anchorage Tuesday.

The NTSB's "Go-Team," which is dispatched to investigate major aviation accidents nationwide, arrived in Anchorage Monday and sent a team of seven investigators, along with support personnel, to Soldotna.

NTSB board member Earl Weener called the team's first day at the crash site at Soldotna's municipal airport "very productive" but said the lack of eyewitnesses or video will make it more difficult to find out exactly what went wrong with the flight, which was supposed to deliver two South Carolina families to a remote bear viewing lodge on the Alaska Peninsula.

The victims of the crash were identified Monday by a South Carolina newspaper as Milton and Kimberly Antonakos and their children, Olivia, 16, Mills, 14, and Anastacia, 11, and Dr. Chris McManus, his wife, Stacey, and their two children, Connor and Meghan, all of Greenville, S.C. , and pilot Walter "Willie" Rediske, a 42-year-old Nikiski native.

What investigators know so far, Weener said, is that the deHavilland DHC-3T Otter took off at 11:20 a.m. Sunday from the airport's lone paved runway and became airborne, though it's not known how long it stayed in the air.

The plane crashed with its right wing down and nose low, Weener said, and came to rest 2,320 feet from the threshold of the runway, in a grassy area 88 feet off the pavement to the right. A fire destroyed much of the aircraft.

All 10 bodies were found inside the airplane, said Dan Bower, a senior accident investigator with the NTSB. Some were still buckled into their seats.

Investigators are now looking to other sources of information on the plane and its planned flight, Weener said. That includes gathering records on the airplane's manufacture, maintenance and ownership, as well as the weight and balance of the passengers and cargo.

So far the team has recovered five cell phones from the wreckage. Investigators hope that images or GPS markers on them will provide additional information.

The plane also had a SPOT satellite messenger device that can send data documenting location to a satellite, Weener said.

The investigators will spend the next week in Soldotna sifting through the wreckage, Weener said.

Wednesday they plan to move the wreckage from the runway area to a hangar at the airport.

No probable cause of the crash will be released while the investigators are in Anchorage, Weener said.

The crash was the worst Alaska aviation accident in more than a decade.

 

Reach Michelle Theriault at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.

 

 


By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS
mtheriault@adn.com