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NTSB report offers new details about crash near Bethel

By Emily Carlson 5:32 PM April 17, 2014

A report released Thursday offers new information on the final moments of Derrick Cedars and Greggory McGee’s lives.

The two pilots died in a Cessna 208 Caravan crash about 22 miles southeast of Kwethluk on April 8.

Forty-two-year-old Cedars and 46-year-old McGee’s plane went though several altitude changes before a “rapid, steep decent to the ground,” according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane was flying at 3,400 feet before it crashed, which was about 30 minutes after it took off from the Bethel airport.

The two Hageland Aviation pilots were on a training flight. They left at 3:22 p.m., but it wasn’t until 5:45 p.m. that Hageland employees reported the plane was overdue.

After a short search, the plane was located in some woods near a river. From the initial impact, the plane traveled about 180 feet “before coming to rest in an upright position,” the report says.

Investigators say the information they’ve gathered comes from the plane’s automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) technology.

“ADS-B gives us basic information. It’s not a flight data recorder. It’s not a cockpit voice recorder by any means, but it does give us some information to go on,” said Clint Johnson, chief of the Alaska regional office with NTSB.

The plane did not have, “nor was it required to be equipped with,” a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder, the report says. A fire that started shortly after the crash consumed most of the wreckage.

The NTSB says weather was not a factor in the crash. Weather data shows that it was clear and calm that afternoon.

The NTSB continues to work to determine the cause of the crash. Next week, the wreckage will be moved to either Anchorage or Wasilla for further investigation.

–Hope Miller contributed reporting to this story.

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