Two men were injured when an airplane flying over the Iron Dog race, under way on Alaska's Iditarod Trail, crashed out near Rainy Pass Lodge on Puntilla Lake. That's according to a dispatch from the Alaska State Troopers.
The aircraft, thought by troopers to be a Cessna 170B, went down about 4:17 p.m., troopers reported. Within two hours, Alaska National Guard pararescuers had arrived via C-130 spotter aircraft and with assistance from an HH60 helicopter.
The two occupants, Anchorage resident Robert D. Stone, age 44, and Jason A. Wichman, age 31, were transported first to the lodge and then to hospitals in Anchorage for treatment of critical injuries, troopers reported.
Wichman is listed on the 2013 Iron Dog pro roster page as a Wasilla competitor in this year's race, wearing bib No. 25. However, Anchorage NBC affiliate KTUU reported in a short Sunday night article that Wichman had withdrawn from the race last week due to an injury:
The owner of the lodge, Steve Perrins, said the single-engine plane had taken off from the airport during windy conditions, and when it tried to turn back around, it stalled and crashed nose first into a frozen lake. Stone was flying the plane and Wichman was a passenger.
Several people in the area rushed to the crash site and pulled the two out of the plane, said Perrins. He added that Wichman was unconscious while waiting for the National Guard's rescue helicopter to arrive.
The Cessna 170B is a small single-engine four-place plane. Troopers report the plane crashed at the end of a nearby lake after making a sharp turn; Rainy Pass Lodge is located near Puntilla Lake.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating the crash site to determine the accident's cause.