Troopers ID deceased pilot in midair collision
One person is dead following a midair collision between two small planes Wednesday afternoon over the Mat-Su Valley.
Troopers and Clint Johnson with the National Transportation Safety Board say the wreckage of one of the aircraft involved was found in a search near the mouth of the Big Susitna River, roughly halfway between Tyonek and Anchorage, on the north side of the Cook Inlet.
One person is confirmed to have died at that scene, Johnson says.
Troopers identified the victim as 56-year-old James Poelman, of Wasilla. He was the only person onboard at the time, AST says.
The other plane made an emergency landing on the dirt strip at the Lake Hood Seaplane Base just after 12:30 Wednesday afternoon. That plane sustained landing gear damage in the airborne collision, according to Anchorage Fire Department Deputy Chief Erich Scheunemann.
“A single aircraft did land on the ground and there were no injuries,” Scheunemann said.
Troopers say that pilot is in good condition.
While authorities have not identified the second pilot, the plane is registered to a Bruce Markwood out of Anchorage.
Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, told reporters at Lake Hood that the plane which landed was a Cessna 175. The other plane, which crashed following the collision, was another high-wing Cessna.
“We have one airplane that obviously made the landing here – one person on board, no injuries, the airplane suffered substantial damage – and one airplane that unfortunately descended uncontrolled into the river,” Johnson said.
Several emergency vehicles had surrounded the landed aircraft at Lake Hood Wednesday afternoon.
The 11th Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center launched an Army National Guard helicopter with a pair of Alaska Air National Guard pararescuemen in response, according to Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead with the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
An NTSB investigator visited the site of the crash at the mouth of the Susitna River with Alaska State Troopers via helicopter Wednesday afternoon.
Nick Swann and Liz Thomas contributed information to this story.
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