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Searchers locate sunken aircraft in Tikchik Lake accident

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Update, Oct. 10: At around 6 p.m. Tuesday, searchers located the missing aircraft in about 40 feet of water at the bottom of Tikchik Lake in Southwest Alaska, according to Alaska State Troopers. Albert Newton “Newt” Ball was believed to be the sole occupant of the aircraft, a 1944 G-44 Grumman Widgeon, when it crashed. Searchers will resume efforts to locate the pilot Wednesday. An Alaska Wildlife Trooper, an Alaska State Trooper, State Parks personnel, and local volunteers are participating in the search effort.

Original story, Oct. 9: Search efforts by Alaska State Troopers failed to locate an aircraft that reportedly crashed on Tikchik Lake near Dillingham, spokesperson Beth Ipsen said Tuesday morning.

The crash was reported 5:15 p.m. Sunday by a hunting guide at the lake, according to troopers. The guide reported seeing an aircraft attempting to land on the lake, when it flipped and began sinking. The guide reportedly kept watch on the area, but nobody was seen exiting the plane  or in the water afterwards.

Troopers went out on Tikchik Lake with seven people, two skiffs and sonar equipment, but were unable to locate the craft on Monday, Ipsen said.

The crash was spotted from the shoreline, Ipsen said, and was noted to be about a half-mile from shore. Perhaps the wreckage had drifted, or was in a different spot than reported, she said. The lake is “pretty big,” and is estimated to be about 60 to 100 feet deep. Troopers will continue the search today.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the plane was owned and operated by Fresh Water Adventures, an air taxi service based in Dillingham and owned by the Ball family. KDLG radio said family friends identified the pilot as Newt Ball, 71.

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