Alaska News

Pilot killed in plane crash at Birchwood Airport identified

Update, 11 a.m. Sunday: Anchorage police on Sunday identified the person killed in a Saturday plane crash at the Birchwood Airport as 43-year-old Christopher Lampshire. His family has been notified.

The National Transportation Safety Board was continuing its investigation into the crash Sunday.

Original Story: One person was killed Saturday when a small plane crashed on takeoff at the Birchwood Airport in Chugiak, about 25 miles northeast of Anchorage, authorities said.

The small plane completely burned "within a matter of minutes," making a rescue impossible for responding members of the Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, Chief Clifton Dalton said in a phone interview.

Officials initially said two people were in the two-seat Champion 7ECA plane, but that was not true. The extent of the fire damage made it difficult at first to determine the number of occupants.

The pilot's identity is being withheld until it can be confirmed by dental records, which may not happen until Monday, said Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Anita Shell.

The National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, Clint Johnson, said the plane's tail number would not be released until the pilot could be identified.

The Chugiak fire department responded to the crash around 1:30 p.m., Dalton said.

Firefighters arrived within five minutes of being dispatched, he said. By then, he added, the plane, laden with fuel, was "fully engulfed."

"We were able to get the aircraft put out pretty quick," Dalton said. But, he added: "There wasn't any opportunity to affect any rescue."

Later in the afternoon, the plane's frame was resting in a ditch next to the road that runs past the Birchwood airstrip's northeast end.

Witnesses said they saw the plane take off, then heard "a couple of pops," Johnson said in phone interview, before landing upside-down.

The engine was being removed from the plane and taken to Wasilla; it will be examined next week "with a fine-toothed comb" by a representative of the engine's manufacturer, Lycoming, Johnson said.

"Nothing is off the table for us," Johnson said. "But right now, our emphasis is on that engine."

Bob Hallinen contributed to this report.