A National Transportation Safety Board report says poor weather conditions likely contributed to a fatal crash near Cantwell more than a year ago.
On June 28, 2013, two pilots and a passenger aboard a twin-engine Beech Baron 95-B55 were killed when the plane clipped a tree, crashed and burned in Broad Pass, according to the NTSB. The airplane, a twin-engine Beech Baron 95-B55, had taken off for Homer from the Fairbanks International Airport just 40 minutes before it went down around 10:40 a.m.
The NTSB report, released last Thursday, said a witness was standing on the ground at Summit Airport near the time of the accident. The witness said he saw an aircraft similar to the one involved in the crash flying near Summit Airport, according to the report. The witness said the airplane was about 400 feet above ground level and flying in and out of the clouds, according to the report. Weather recorded at the time of the incident included overcast clouds at about 350 feet above ground level and a light fog hanging in the trees.
The pilots in the crash were leading a group of 18 airplanes, divided into a slow group and a fast group, on an aerial tour called “Let’s Fly Alaska.” The airplane that crashed was responsible for flying ahead of the two groups to check weather and other conditions as the whole tour traveled to each destination.
Listed in the NTSB report are the two lead pilots of the separate groups on the tour, who both opted to land their planes at the Healy River Airport because of deteriorating weather conditions in the Windy Pass area. The pilots listed thick clouds, haze and restricted visibility as grounds for an early landing, according to the NTSB.
A statement provided by the widow of one of the deceased pilots revealed her husband was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer in 2012. She said he considered himself medically unqualified to serve as the Pilot in Command that day, according to the NTSB, and arranged to have the second pilot accompany him on the tour.
A post-accident examination revealed no signs of a mechanical malfunction or failure, the NTSB said.