Pilot swims away from Southeast Alaska plane crash
The pilot and sole occupant of a plane that crashed Wednesday in Southeast Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve was well-prepared, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, and survived with "minimal injuries.”
Word of the crash at Crillon Lake roughly 50 miles west of Gustavus reached the National Park Service just after 4:40 p.m. from the U.S. Coast Guard, according to park officials. Park officials had been preparing a response, but stood down when a Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter crew picked up the 34-year-old man.
According to the Coast Guard, the crash occurred due to an “in-flight engine seizure,” which caused the plane to land on its back about 10 to 20 yards from the lake’s shore.
“The survivor was located on the shore of Crillon Lake with a survival bag that allowed him to have dry clothing and the materials to start a fire,” Coast Guard officials wrote. “The Coast Guard aircrew hoisted him from a cutout in the trees along the shoreline.”
Conditions in the area at the time included 61-degree temperatures and 12-mph winds.
Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Newkirk, the flight mechanic on the Jayhawk, said the rescued pilot "set himself up for success by having a plan and being prepared for the situation.” The helicopter crew flew the man to Sitka for treatment.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
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