Alaska State Troopers have identified the pilot who was killed in a plane crash near Willow Lake Wednesday night. 

According to troopers online dispatch Thursday morning, Colt Richter, 24, of Anchorage, was flying for Regal Air when the plane went down. 

"Richter took off at Willow Lake en route to FBI lake in the Skwentna area with cargo and two passengers," troopers wrote. "Immediately after takeoff, the plane crashed into a wooded area of a residential area."


The wreckage is located in the woods, about 20-feet from Barrington Loop. 

On Thursday morning, a witness said he watched the plane try to take off two or three times and "knew the pilot was in trouble."

Ken Barkley, the borough's deputy director of emergency services, said the pilot was killed in the crash south of the lake was first reported at about 7 p.m.

Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch on Wednesday that the crash took place near Mile 69 of the Parks Highway, near Barrington Loop and Long Lake Road.

Troopers and Alaska Division of Forestry crews responded along with Mat-Su firefighters and medics, to the crash of a propeller-driven de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver. The plane was a commercially contracted flight, troopers said, but didn't mention which carrier was operating it; its pilot was not related to the passengers.

Two passengers, described by Barkley as a 30-year-old mother and a 2-year-old child, survived with what troopers said "are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries."

"We do not know the extent of their injuries," said trooper Sgt. Brent Johnson. "They were conscious; I think they were ambulatory."

A Federal Aviation Administration weather camera at the Willow Airport shows smoke from the area of a nearby plane crash on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Credit: From FAA)

Willow resident Trisha Wyrick said she heard the aftermath of the crash, including a fire in the aircraft, as residents helped the mother and child escape.

"I could hear her screaming for help and the flames were -- the flames were pretty big," Wyrick said. "[My neighbor] was out there and he was able to help her, and there was another car that drove up too and they were able to help as well to get her out."

A Federal Aviation Administration weather camera looking southwest from the Willow Airport showed smoke rising from the area shortly after 7 p.m.

Emergency services director Otto Feather said the plane burned after the crash, with crews still trying to extinguish a blaze that had spread to wildlands as of 8 p.m.

"We have the wildfire contained in that area," Feather said. "Right now we're trying to put out the fire in the aircraft -- the engine contains some magnesium that still wants to burn."

Neighbors reported hearing several explosions after the plane went down. A burned propane tank was found at the crash site.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, said the NTSB had been notified of the crash and was still gathering information on the aircraft, its origin and destination.

Editor's note: In an earlier version of the story, troopers reported that Richter was 23 when he is actually 24.

Heather Hintze, Matt Faubion, Melissa Frey and Liz Raines contributed information to this story.

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