Wasilla man killed in Knik River plane crash

A 25-year-old man was killed when the small plane he was piloting crashed into a Knik River gravel bar Saturday, according to Alaska State Troopers and federal investigators.

In an online dispatch, troopers said they were alerted to the crash at 2:48 p.m. Saturday. A LifeMed helicopter responded to the scene in a remote area of the Knik River close to Friday Creek, southeast of Butte.

Ray Justen of Wasilla was the pilot and sole occupant of the Cessna 172 aircraft, troopers said. He died at the scene.

"Witnesses said this airplane came in, made a touch-and-go on a gravel bar and during a fairly steep climb out there was an aerodynamic stall," said Alaska National Transportation Safety Board chief Clint Johnson, who traveled to the scene via trooper helicopter Saturday. "The airplane descended nose-first and struck the gravel bar."

Friends and family traveled to the scene on ATVs, Johnson said. Winds in the area were gusty at the time of the crash.

Justen's body has been transferred to the State Medical Examiner Office. The NTSB continues to investigate the crash.