A midair collision involving a helicopter and a floatplane carrying six passengers Monday evening in Katmai National Park injured the helicopter pilot but no one else, authorities said.
The de Havilland Beaver DHC-2 collided with the Bell 206 helicopter just after 4 p.m. near American Creek, said Clint Johnson, chief of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska office. The area is roughly 40 miles east of King Salmon. The collision occurred at roughly 800 to 1,000 feet in the air, Johnson said.
The helicopter pilot was transported to King Salmon and then to an Anchorage hospital for medical treatment, according to a statement from Katmai National Park. No one else was in the helicopter, which was badly damaged and crashed into a wooded area, according to Johnson.
The plane had minor damage to the floats but was able to continue flying to Alaska’s Enchanted Lake Lodge, Johnson said. The plane made an emergency water landing, according to park officials.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the passengers on the Beaver were guests at the lodge, which is located within Katmai National Park and provides guided fly fishing, according to the company website. The lodge could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.
The helicopter departed from King Salmon on Monday and was headed for Homer, Johnson said. NTSB investigators had not talked with the pilots by Tuesday morning and the flight path of the plane was not immediately known, he said.
The helicopter is owned by Homer-based Maritime Helicopters. Company spokesman Matt Barkett said the pilot was “OK” and said the company was cooperating with NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration investigations.
Another Bell 206 operated by Maritime Helicopters crashed near Utqiagvik in July, killing the pilot and three state workers.
The investigation into Monday’s midair collision was just beginning, Johnson said. Investigators hoped to talk with the pilots and passengers Tuesday.
“I think it goes without saying here that we got very, very lucky on this one,” he said.