Alaska News

Pilot wet but unhurt in floatplane crash near Ketchikan

An Illinois pilot was unharmed when his floatplane crashed on a lake about 20 miles north of Ketchikan on Tuesday, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers said late Tuesday that dispatchers got calls at about 2:20 p.m. that the plane and its sole occupant, 58-year-old Billy Rusk of Poplar Grove, Illinois, had crashed on Jordan Lake.

"Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad (members) and a Temsco helicopter responded to Jordan Lake and recovered (Rusk) who was wet and cold but otherwise unhurt," troopers said.

KVRS member Jerry Kiffer said that Rusk had been staying at a Forest Service cabin on nearby Heckman Lake, and was visiting a similar cabin on Jordan Lake at the time of the crash.

"The pilot made an approach and flipped the aircraft over on landing," Kiffer said.

According to Kiffer, the area poses significant communications difficulties, but Rusk had been prepared for them.

"It's very difficult to get word that there's actually a problem from that lake," Kiffer said. "He was able to utilize a personal locator beacon that had texting capabilities -- his family had been following him."

Rusk was flown to the nearby Heckman Lake cabin where KVRS medics were on standby, and then to Ketchikan. He declined medical attention.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Shaun Williams said no National Transportation Safety Board personnel were sent to Ketchikan because Rusk wasn't injured. The aircraft was set to be recovered from the lake by Thursday.

"A damage assessment will be made and an assessment as to whether this qualifies as an accident," Williams said.