National Guard rescues 2 after plane crash on Montague Island

The Alaska Air National Guard rescued a pilot and passenger after their Cessna 172 crashed on Montague Island on Tuesday and then caught fire.

The crash occurred on takeoff around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, federal investigators say. The pilot, who was not identified, reported partial loss of engine power before crashing into a stand of trees.

Both occupants received minor injuries, National Transportation Safety Board Alaska chief Clint Johnson said. The post-crash fire “incinerated” the plane, Johnson said.

The agency is investigating the crash.

The crash occurred on the southwest part of the island in the Gulf of Alaska at the entrance to Prince William Sound, according to a Guard press release. The Guard responded after the Rescue Coordination Center picked up the signal from an emergency locator transmitter beacon.

Shortly after the center received the signal, it stopped broadcasting — because the plane caught fire, authorities say.

The crash survivors, however, grabbed their tent before it burned, according to the Guard. They used it to take shelter from the rain. The pilot had called family members on a satellite phone to update them, and his relatives called the U.S. Coast Guard, who relayed the information to the rescue coordination center.

Bad weather initially stymied a Pave Hawk helicopter trying to get to the crash site by way of Moose Pass, the Guard said. Another Pave Hawk was launched to try a different route, but the first helicopter refueled in Seward and navigated to the crash site along the coastline.

The helicopter flew the pilot and passenger to Providence Alaska Medical Center.

Their identities and medical condition weren’t immediately available.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at zhollander@adn.com.