Troopers identify two men killed in Interior Alaska plane crash

Troopers have identified the two men killed in an Interior Alaska plane crash Saturday.

Sam R. Brice, 81, of Fairbanks and Howard A. "Buzz" Otis, 64, of North Pole, died  when their Arctic Aircraft S-1B2, a vintage Alaska-manufactured plane sometimes called an "Arctic Tern," crashed near the Salcha River Saturday afternoon, Alaska State Troopers said in a Sunday dispatch.

The crash was first reported around 11 a.m. Saturday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It happened near Butte Creek, an area north of the Salcha River about 60 miles east of Fairbanks.

On Saturday night, an investigator with the federal National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene via a trooper helicopter, said Clint Johnson, the NTSB's Alaska chief. The next step will be to remove the wreckage from the scene, he said.

The investigator, Fairbanks-based Brice Banning, has talked to people who heard but did not see the crash, Johnson said.

"They heard the airplane, assumed it was landing in-area," Johnson said. "There were power changes — the noise going from high to low (revolutions per minute) — and then they heard the crash."

Investigators are looking to talk to more witnesses. They aren't yet certain what the pilot was doing in the area, or what his destination was. There is an airstrip in the area, 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.