Aviation

NTSB: No pre-crash fire in fatal plane wreck near Houston High

A fire that consumed a small plane after it crashed Thursday about a mile from Houston High School, killing the pilot, ignited after the wreck, according to crash investigators.

Big Lake resident Joe Mielke, 23, died in the crash, according to Alaska State Troopers. A Friday dispatch said troopers first responded to the Cessna 150's crash, near the intersection of Hawk Lane and Tom Parker's Way, at about 1:45 p.m. Thursday.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Millicent Hoidal said Friday that Mielke took off from the Big Lake airport and was headed to a private airstrip in the area. Witnesses at the airport did see the Cessna during at least part of Mielke's flight.

"They saw it take off and fly over, but nobody actually witnessed it impacting the ground," Hoidal said.

Troopers tentatively identified Mielke as the Cessna's pilot about an hour after the crash, citing word from friends and family present at the crash site, but Hoidal said they weren't among the witnesses.

"None of his family were there when it happened," Hoidal said. "They were notified afterwards, and they did go to the scene."

Investigators hadn't found any obvious factors in the crash. Hoidal said a post-crash fire spread through much of the Cessna before it was extinguished.

"A large percentage of the airplane was burned," Hoidal said. "We have no indication that there was a fire before the impact at this point."

Representatives from airframe manufacturer Cessna and engine maker Continental Motors were headed to Alaska to help examine the Cessna.

"The wreckage was recovered last night, and it's in a secure location and it will be examined next week," Hoidal said.

Troopers said the State Medical Examiner's Office responded to recover Mielke's remains from the crash site for an autopsy.

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