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Engine troubles preceded Kenai Peninsula plane crash, witnesses say

A witness saw a small plane that crashed on the Kenai Peninsula on Saturday night having apparent engine trouble before going down in a stand of trees, killing the two Kasilof men aboard, a federal investigator said Sunday.

The crash of the Cessna 180 killed pilot Brian Nolan, 69, and Peter Lahndt, 57.

Alaska State Troopers received several reports around 8 p.m. Saturday that a plane had crashed near Cohoe Loop Road, which runs alongside the shores of Cook Inlet in Kasilof.

Troopers contacted investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board around 8:45 p.m., said the agency's Alaska chief Clint Johnson.

At first it was unclear how many people were aboard the plane. The crash was "not survivable" because of a post-crash fire.

"Once the fire was out they ended up finding two bodies inside of an incinerated airplane," Johnson said.

An NTSB investigator had arrived in Kasilof by 1 a.m. Sunday, Johnson said.

Several people witnessed the crash.

Johnson said the cause of the crash is still under investigation, but witnesses reported the aircraft was having engine trouble.

"One very credible witness saw the airplane fly by and indicated that there seemed to be a partial loss of engine power" before the aircraft crashed into trees off the roadway, he said.