Timeline of Dillingham Plane Crash
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the National Transportation Safety Board gave a brief outline of the events that led up to the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of five people including former Senator Ted Stevens.
Original article posted Aug. 10, 2010
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the National Transportation Safety Board gave a brief outline of the events that led up to the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of five people including former Senator Ted Stevens. Four people did survive the crash and were rescued Monday afternoon and taken to a hospital in Anchorage.
NTSB officials say according to other people staying at the GCI lodge, the group of nine talked about their departure over lunch Monday afternoon.
The group then flew out from the lodge sometime between 3 and 3:15 in the afternoon.
The group was planning to go fishing for silver salmon at a nearby fish camp.
The first sign of trouble came around dinnertime, when staff at the GCI lodge called the fish camp to see when the group would be returning for dinner. It was at that time they realized the group never made it to the fish camp.
Around 6 p.m., several private pilots started searching for the aircraft. At 6:15 p.m., a search party was launched from the GCI lodge.
When the crash site was located, pilots circled the area for about 45 minutes, but the weather deteriorated and they were forced to leave the area.
Before they did, they were able to drop down a satellite phone and several handheld radios, which allowed the survivors to keep in communication with rescuers.
A little bit later, a rescue squad including a doctor and two EMTs were able to land about 1000 feet above the crash site. They then hiked down to the wreckage, where they stayed with the survivors and victims until crews could reach them Tuesday afternoon.
Around midnight, crews from the Alaska Air National Guard and the Coast Guard reached the area, but due to the poor weather, had trouble finding the crash site. Around 6 a.m., more crews arrived, but bad weather continued to hamper efforts to get the crash site.
Rescuers finally reached the crash site Tuesday afternoon. According to the NTSB, the terrain was very steep and slippery, which made the rescue and recovery very difficult. Crews then took the five victims and four survivors off the mountain, and flew them to Anchorage.
Other information released by the NTSB at the press conference included details of the crash site. According the witnesses, the plane crashed up the mountain, finally coming to rest in a ravine on a slope of about 30 degrees. The plane crash left about a 100-yard gash in the side of the mountain.
However, NTSB investigators say the wreckage was largely left intact. The plane's nose, tail and both wings could be easily identified. Witnesses said the wings were still attached to the fuselage, but were heavily damaged. The front of the aircraft was heavily damaged as well. Despite the severity of the wreckage, the NTSB said the plane did not catch fire and no one was ejected from the aircraft.
The NTSB also talked about the plane's pilot, 62-year-old Terry Smith. According to investigators, Smith was an air transport rated pilot. As of his last physical in December in 2009, he had logged 29,000 hours of flight time.