Regal Air pilot dies in plane crash near Rainy Pass
A pilot found dead in a wrecked plane Monday, near one of Alaska’s most crash-prone areas, was the third from the same air carrier to die in the past 14 months.
Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch that they received word just before 5:45 p.m. Monday that the Cessna 206, flown by 67-year-old Carl David Oberg and operated by Regal Air Services out of Lake Hood in Anchorage, had crashed in the vicinity of Rainy Pass.
“The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center responded to the area of Rainy Pass and located the plane and the pilot, the sole occupant on board, deceased,” troopers wrote.
Oberg’s next of kin were notified, and the state medical examiner’s office took possession of his body after the RCC crew flew it to Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska chief, said the wheel-equipped Cessna had left Lake Hood’s airstrip Monday, on a flight to pick up hunters in the field. That afternoon, Regal Air told search-and-rescue authorities that “they had an airplane missing.”
“They reported it was being tracked by Spidertracks or [a similar GPS-based service], so we had an idea where to look,” Johnson said.
The Alaska National Guard crew sent to the scene found the crashed plane, according to Johnson, in “snow-covered mountainous terrain.”
Tech Sgt. Alicia Halla, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing, said an initial report that Oberg was overdue reached RCC at about 12:45 p.m. Two aircraft, an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and an HC-130 search plane, were launched to find the plane -- but poor weather forced the helicopter to refuel and the HC-130 to return before the HH-60's pararescuemen could get to the Cessna.
"The terrain was fairly steep; they had to hike back into a crevasse before they could reach it," Halla said. "By the time they reached it, it had more than half a foot of snow on it."
Two of the NTSB’s three Alaska investigators are already assigned to a fatal crash discovered last weekend near the Nenana River, in which troopers believe a pair of Fairbanks hunters died. As a result, Johnson said, an Outside investigator will visit Alaska to handle Monday’s crash.
“Our No. 1 goal is to get to the site, document the wreckage and do recovery,” Johnson said. “We don't want to wait long.”
There wasn’t any initial word on weather conditions at the time of the crash, or any transmissions that may have been made from the Cessna.
Regal Air staff declined to comment on the crash Tuesday morning.
Oberg is the second Regal Air pilot to die this year, after a July 18 crash near Willow Lake which killed 24-year-old Colt Richter. The de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver floatplane’s two passengers, a mother and her 2-year-old son, were severely injured but able to escape the plane after it crashed and burned.
A third Regal Air pilot, 22-year-old Joel Black, died last year in a July 27, 2017 crash near Lake Clark Pass. NTSB investigators, who had sought more information from pilots in the area at the time, said Black had been flying building supplies from Anchorage to a lodge near Koliganek when he crashed.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.