A 62-year-old pilot was killed Thursday in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve while trying to stop a runaway plane.
At about 11 a.m., Clark J. Baldwin of Wasilla was hit by a moving propeller on his own plane, which was idling on the Peavine Bar airstrip, about 15 miles east of McCarthy, the National Park Service wrote in a release. The National Park Service website describes the airstrip as a gravel bar on the Chitistone River.
Baldwin had been instructing a small group of pilots at the Southeast Alaska park, the park service said. The other pilots contacted authorities by satellite phone, the service said.
Wrangell-St. Elias chief ranger Peter Christian said Baldwin was the owner and operator of Alaska's Cub Training Specialists, a flight school. Baldwin was flying with three other planes, all Super Cubs, when the group touched down in the park on their way to Cordova, Christian said.
Baldwin was reportedly flying solo.
"They were doing off-airport landing and gravel bar-type training," the ranger said.
Witnesses reported all four Super Cubs were running with the propellers spinning when one of the planes started rolling forward, Christian said. Baldwin jumped out of his plane to try to help and ran into his plane's propeller.
"It was just a tragic accident," Christian said.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Clint Johnson said the NTSB wasn't told of the incident until about 5:30 p.m. Thursday night because of weather and communication issues at the park.
Because the engine was running, the NTSB is investigating the incident, Johnson said. But he and Alaska State Troopers both said the National Park Service was leading the investigation.
The National Park Service said it appears to be an accident.