Pilot killed as small plane crashes west of Cook Inlet

A small plane crashed late Wednesday in the region west of Cook Inlet, killing the pilot, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

Alaska NTSB chief Clint Johnson said investigators from the NTSB and Alaska State Troopers were at the site of a crashed Piper PA-18.

The plane crashed 50 miles west of Tyonek, at the east end of Chakachamna Lake and about 80 miles west of Anchorage, Johnson said. The pilot was the only person on board, he said.

[NTSB wants to know why so many airworthy planes are crashing in Alaska]

Officials' response to the crash started sometime after 10:45 p.m. Wednesday.

The 11th Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center received a signal from the plane's 406 ELT, or emergency locator transmitter. The transmitter was a newer version that sends out a discrete code with registration information and GPS coordinates. That helped with the response, Johnson said.

A helicopter with two troopers and an NTSB investigator reached the site of the crash Thursday afternoon. They confirmed the pilot died, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.


Recovery efforts were ongoing, Peters said.

Troopers have contacted the pilot's family, but Peters said they're not ready to release the man's name.

"While we believe we know who the pilot is and we have contacted that person's next of kin, it is a pretty bad wreck," she said. "We are going to wait until the (state medical examiner) can confirm the identity of the pilot before releasing it."

Officials hoped to recover the pilot Thursday night and have a positive ID by Friday, Peters said.

The investigation is in its early stages, but Johnson said officials believe the plane collided with trees. But where the pilot took off from, where the plane was headed and the cause of the crash are still being looked into.

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Suzanna Caldwell contributed to this report. 

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.