Plane left on ice floe recovered after Navy exercise accident
A twin-engine aircraft which struck and injured a man on takeoff at a Navy exercise north of Alaska last month has been recovered, after weeks left drifting on an ice floe.
Bald Mountain Air office manager Sheila Shields confirmed that the plane, a de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, had been tracked via GPS and recovered from ice north of Deadhorse after the March 20 incident.
“We got it off a couple weeks ago,” Shields said. “I think the insurance company did the recovery.”
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane had been taking off from Ice Exercise 2018’s Ice Camp Skate, established to support Arctic training involving three nuclear submarines, when its wing clipped a man along the edge of an airstrip formed on the ice. The man, who had been photographing LEGO mini-figures for his children, suffered severe head injuries and was medevaced to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.
Clint Johnson, the NTSB’s Alaska chief, said Wednesday afternoon that all of the $2.5 million aircraft save its wings had been retrieved by helicopter crews.
“My understanding is they did recover the aircraft in pieces,” Johnson said. “They went out there with a small helicopter – they cut the engines off, they cut the wings off. They got the engines, the fuselage, the avionics.”
The accident originally occurred about 130 miles north of Deadhorse, Johnson said, but the ice floe had reportedly drifted south until it was just 90 miles offshore – a factor which aided in the Otter’s recovery.
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