Pilot and flight instructor walk away from emergency landing on Knik Arm mudflats

A small plane with engine trouble flipped Monday afternoon on the mudflats near Goose Bay Airport during a flight lesson, leaving the instructor with minor injuries, before the empty aircraft was carried by the tide into Knik Arm.

The plane was coming into the small airport, in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough north of Anchorage, for touch-and-go training exercises when the engine lost power, said Clint Johnson, chief of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska office. The 33-year-old pilot made an emergency landing on the mudflats, but the plane nosed over and landed on its back, Johnson said.

The pilot and 87-year-old certified flight instructor were able to get out of the overturned 1978 Taylorcraft F-19 and walk toward the shore, Alaska State Troopers said. The crash report came just before 5 p.m.

An Alaska Army National Guard soldier saw the wreckage of the Taylorcraft while flying and called the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, base officials said in a statement.

Two airmen and a relative who were flying a Cessna 180 in the area landed and helped the injured flight instructor walk toward higher ground as the tide was rising rapidly, according to the JBER statement.

Responders with Central Mat-Su Fire Department hoisted the flight instructor up from the mudflats, troopers said. She was treated at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. The pilot hiked to the airport with help from good Samaritans and did not need medical treatment.

The pilot was taking a lesson with Arctic Flyers, which operates out of Lake Hood Seaplane Base and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, according to the company’s website.


The plane had not been recovered as of Tuesday.

NTSB investigators will determine in coming days if it’s possible to recover the plane, Johnson said.

“We have lost airplanes in the Inlet before and that’s typically the last time we see it,” he said. “However, it may float, it may end up someplace where we can recover it.”

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.