Alaska News

Pilot killed in plane crash near Whittier

A pilot was killed when a small airplane he was flying crashed into a mountain near Whittier Saturday night, according to the Alaska State Troopers and federal crash investigators.

His name has not been released.

The pilot took off in a Piper PA 28-180 single engine airplane from Merrill Field in Anchorage sometime on Saturday with a plan to fly to Valdez, said Clint Johnson, the Alaska chief of the National Transportation Safety Board.

There were no other passengers, Johnson said.

An emergency locator transmission — which goes off on impact of a crash — pinged from about one mile southeast of Whittier, Johnson said.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center notified troopers around 11:30 p.m. of the crash.

"Due to weather in the area the search was hampered, however RCC and Coast Guard Helicopters were able to locate a plane crash and confirmed the sole occupant was deceased," troopers wrote in an online dispatch Sunday.


The wreckage is on a snowfield in steep, mountainous terrain, according to preliminary reports, Johnson said.

As of Sunday afternoon, members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and Alaska State Troopers helicopter crews were trying to get to the site to recover the pilot's body.

An investigator with the NTSB will also head to the scene to begin to investigate what caused the crash, Johnson said.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.