Aviation

Six dead in crash of flightseeing plane near Ketchikan

This story has been updated with a new article: NTSB team heads to Ketchikan to look into flightseeing crash that killed 6


Searchers reported no survivors after locating the wreckage of a flightseeing plane that had gone missing near Ketchikan on Thursday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The plane was carrying a pilot and five passengers, the Coast Guard said.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew located the plane’s wreckage at 2:37 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. The helicopter lowered two crew members, who reported no survivors.

The names of those who died in the crash had not been released Thursday afternoon.

The wreckage was found in an area of steep, mountainous and densely tree-covered terrain around 12 miles northeast of Ketchikan, according to Clint Johnson, Alaska chief of the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB is investigating the crash and Johnson noted the rugged location of the wreckage poses a challenges for reaching the site.

The passengers came off a Holland America cruise ship docked in Ketchikan, the Nieuw Amsterdam, according to a statement from the company. The floatplane excursion was offered by an independent tour operator and not sold by the cruise line.

Southeast Aviation operated the flight, a Holland America spokesperson said.

“Our hearts are shattered at the loss of six people today,” read a statement issued by Southeast Aviation Thursday evening. “We are thinking of and grieving with the families of the five passengers and our dear friend and pilot aboard the aircraft. We are cooperating with the first responders and agencies involved, including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board and Alaska State Troopers. All of us share in the anguish of this tragic incident, and our prayers go out to all affected.”

The plane, a single-engine DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver, had taken off from Misty Fjords National Monument in the Tongass National Forest and was headed to Ketchikan, according to officials with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Coast Guard received an emergency signal from the plane around 11:20 a.m. Thursday, Petty Officer Eli Teller said. The signal was in the area of Misty Fjords National Monument, the Coast Guard said. Bad weather initially kept searchers from the area.

Troopers and volunteers from the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad were set to work on recovering remains from the crash site Thursday and Friday.

Weather in the area early Thursday afternoon was reported as clouds at 900 feet, light rain and low visibility.

Southeast Aviation is one of numerous flight services offering sightseeing tours of Misty Fjords National Monument out of Ketchikan, a cruise ship port in a part of the state that relies on tourism.

Six people died and 10 were hurt near Ketchikan in 2019 when two flightseeing planes collided in clear skies over George Inlet near a scenic waterfall. Both planes carried passengers from the same cruise megaship, the Royal Princess, on a 25-minute flightseeing tour.

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