Pilot dies in crash near Ketchikan

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A pilot is dead after a plane crashed Thursday afternoon south of Ketchikan, authorities say.

The Piper PA-24-180 crashed into Judy Hill, a mountain on the eastern side of Gravina Island near Blank Inlet, according to Allen Kinitzer, a spokesman for the Alaska Region of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane was reported 15 minutes overdue by Ketchikan Flight Services Station just after 3 p.m., said Petty Officer Amanda Norcross, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District. The pilot was the only one on board.

The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad notified the Coast Guard a little less than two hours later that it had found the wreckage of the missing plane, Norcross said.

The plane was near the mountain where it crashed the last time it was in communication flight tower, about half an hour before it was reported missing, Norcross said.


The National Transportation Safety Board planned to send an investigator to the crash site Friday morning, according to Alaska Region Chief Clint Johnson.

This is the fourth plane to crash in the Ketchikan area this summer, and the third to result in death.

In May, six people were killed when two floatplanes collided in midair over George Inlet. A floatplane crash near Metlakatla later that month ended in the deaths of two people, and a plane that flipped in Ketchikan harbor in June saw all five passengers escape safely.

Madeline McGee

Madeline McGee is a general assignment reporter for the Daily News.