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Bush Pilot

Preliminary report on Alaska plane crash near McGrath released

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 30, 2016
  • Published August 17, 2011

The NTSB has released its preliminary report on the Aug. 13 plane crash near McGrath that killed two and injured four others and points to "whiteout conditions" as the possible cause of the accident.

According to the report, one of the survivors, Don Evans, was sitting in the front passenger seat of the aircraft, en route to the small Alaska community of Anvik after leaving McGrath a little after 7:00 p.m. Saturday. According to Evans' statement, about 20 minutes into the flight, the weather began to worsen, with clouds, fog, and rain settling in. The pilot of the Cessna 207, 66-year-old Ernie Chase, reportedly told Evans "this is getting pretty bad," before descending in the plane, coming back up, and descending again.

From the report:

The next thing (Evans) recalled was looking out the front windscreen, and just before impact, seeing the mountainside suddenly appear out of the fog. He said that all of the survivors lost consciousness during the impact, and he was the first to regain consciousness.

As previously reported, after coming to, Evans hit the 911 button on Chase's SPOT transmitter, which notified Chase's family and Inland Air co-owner Steve Hill, who was able to direct other aircraft to attempt to make contact with the now-missing plane. The report states that the FAA issued an alert notice for the missing aircraft around 10 p.m., and an Air Force C-130 dispatched to the area was able to pick up the signal from the plane's 121.5 MHz-frequency Electronic Locator Transmitter, but "poor weather prohibited searchers from reaching the site until the next morning."

Anvik elementary school teacher Julia Walker died in the crash, along with the pilot Ernie Chase. The survivors were all members of the Evans family: husband and wife Don and Rosemary Evans, and their two children, Donny and McKenzie. The four survivors of the crash were due to begin their first year of classes at the Blackwell School in Anvik, Don and Rosemary as joint teachers, and Donny and McKenzie as students.

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