Nobody hurt when Yute plane burns after emergency landing in Bethel

Yute, bethel, plane, plane crash

As smoke filled the cockpit, the pilot of a Yute Commuter Service plane turned back after taking off Saturday evening in Bethel and made an emergency landing, authorities say.

The Cessna 207 took off just before 6 p.m. and landed again within minutes, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

“They got a smell of smoke to begin with and then got smoke in the cockpit, so they returned immediately,” said Clint Johnson, Alaska chief for the agency.

The pilot got all the passengers off safely before the plane burst into flames, Johnson said. The plane sustained significant damage.

The Cessna was pulled off the runway that evening and secured, he said. The cause of the fire wasn’t clear.

A Yute representative said the company had no comment Monday.

The air service has been involved in a number of aviation incidents in recent years.

Five people died in the February 2020 crash of a Yute Commuter Service plane about 12 miles southwest of Tuntutuliak. A preliminary NTSB report found the pilot had been with the company for less than a month and took off in low clouds before visibility dropped as low as a half-mile in light snow, mist and freezing fog.

No one was injured when a Yute Piper PA-32 lost power after departing Aniak Airport in April 2019. The pilot told investigators he observed a loss of engine oil pressure before turning toward the closest airport at Akiak and landing off-airport on tundra, damaging the right wing, according to an investigation docket.

In November 2019, a pilot and a pilot in training waited for rescue in waist-deep water when they crashed into Goodnews Bay after takeoff. The pilot reported a loss of engine power, according to an investigation docket.

Bethel-based Yute provides scheduled passenger and cargo service as well as charters to Yukon-Kuskokwim communities, according to its website. The company is operated by Paklook Air.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at zhollander@adn.com.