Troopers: Plane crash claims life of Wasilla man
Last updated at 2:20 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30
A Wasilla man is dead after the plane he was flying crashed on a dry river bed near Palmer on Saturday.
The crash was reported to Alaska State Troopers at 2:48 p.m. where the Friday Creek meets the Knik River, according to an online dispatch.
Ray Justen, 25, was the pilot and only person on board, according to troopers.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Clint Johnson said the pilot’s brother was at the scene with a few other people and described the crash.
“[He] indicated that the airplane touched down on a gravel-covered surface, took off again, had a fairly steep climb,” Johnson said. “There were wind conditions, maybe 15-20 knot winds at the time, gusty winds, and what he was able to explain to me was a loss of control, or a stall. Unfortunately the plane descended nose-first and ultimately impacted the riverbank.”
When a LifeMed helicopter from Wolf Lake responded around 3:17 p.m., Justen was dead, according to troopers. Johnson said Justen’s brother and those with him attempted life-saving measures, which were unsuccessful.
Johnson flew out to the scene with troopers to examine the crash site. The dispatch noted the aircraft, a Cessna 172, had sustained significant damage during the crash.
Justen’s body was recovered from the wreckage and taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage. His next of kin have been notified of his death.
The NTSB is continuing to investigate the crash. Johnson said a helicopter would remove the wreckage from the scene and take it back to a hanger for a more in-depth look at the plane.
KTVA 11’s Eric Ruble contributed to this report.