Pilot's 'first-night flight' ends in crash near Willow
A pilot on her "first-night training flight" and her flight instructor were injured in a plane crash near Willow last week, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to the report, 20-year-old Robin Spaulding and 29-year-old John Cabaud took off in a Cessna U206 from the Talkeetna Airport just before midnight on Friday for stop-and-go landings at multiple airports in the area.
The report said after Spaulding completed one full stop landing, both pilots agreed to do another takeoff and landing until something felt wrong. Cabaud said he took control of the plane, but before he could recover it was too late.
"She said that after takeoff, while maintaining runway heading and climbing the airplane to 1,000 ft mean sea level (msl), she started a right, crosswind turn into a dark area with no visible horizon. The last event that she remembered, was the CFI saying, in part: 'what's wrong with your attitude indicator?' The airplane subsequently descended and collided with the ground," NTSB wrote in the report.
Both pilots were able to get out of the plane through a large tear in the fuselage, however, they could not get to their survival gear because of their injuries and the wreckage debris, the report said. They ended up finding Spaulding's cell phone outside the plane and was able to call a family member who then called Alaska State Troopers.
Around 11:58 p.m., the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received a signal from the plane's Emergency Locator Transmitter. An Air National Guard HH-60G Pavehawk helicopter rescued the two around 1:50 a.m. on Saturday, according to the report.
"The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings, fuselage and empennage during the impact," NTSB wrote.
Spaulding received her private pilot certificate on August 9.
NTSB's investigation is ongoing.
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