Aviation

Pilot who died in Kodiak plane crash was Soldotna businessman

A Soldotna pilot who died this week when his small plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Kodiak Municipal Airport was headed to a hunting site, authorities said.

Derek Leichliter, 39, was a member of the Kenai Municipal Airport Commission and owned Legacy Electric.

Leichliter departed the Kodiak airport around 2 p.m. Sunday and crashed shortly afterward, said Clint Johnson, chief of the National Transportation Safety Board Alaska office. He was headed to a remote hunting site and was planning to return to Kodiak Municipal Airport to pick up a passenger before returning to the hunting site, Johnson said.

It is too early to tell what may have caused the crash, Johnson said Tuesday.

The plane came to rest near East Elementary School, less than a mile from the airport, said Lt. Francis de la Fuente of the Kodiak Police Department. Johnson said there were a number of trees in the area where the plane came to a rest.

My heart is heavy after learning a close friend of ours died in a plane crash in Kodiak this past weekend. Derek...

Posted by Lisa Murkowski on Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Leichliter was flying a Wag-Aero 2+2, which Johnson described as an amateur-built kit airplane that looks similar to a Super Cub. The plane belonged to Leichliter, Johnson said, although it was not immediately clear if he had recently purchased the plane or if someone else had built it for him.

Two NTSB investigators traveled to Kodiak on Monday and did preliminary documentation of the crash site, Johnson said. Investigators will continue work this week, and Johnson said the NTSB will move the wreckage to a secure location.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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