Downed plane spurs investigation

Multiple agencies are investigating a downed plane found in the Cook Inlet mudflats near Birchwood Airport in Chugiak.

The plane was reported via a 911 call just after midnight Friday, according to an Alaska State Trooper dispatch. It was located by a Rescue Coordination Center aircraft just after 6 a.m. Friday.

The small aircraft “was found in a shallow area of swift moving water,” according to an update released by the Alaska Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. The water is moving too quickly for personnel to get close enough to search inside the plane, according to the release.

AST Public Information Officer Megan Peters said the owner of the plane has not yet been located, as the plane’s tail number was “not able to be read.” She said the plane’s owner and the person flying it at the time of the crash are not necessarily the same person.

“We know there’s at least a pilot involved,” Peters said. “Essentially the search personnel are just out there looking right now.”

As of Friday afternoon, investigation indicates there may have been two people on the plane. Peters said she could not confirm exactly what about the investigation points to more than one person.

AST is coordinating with RCC, the Anchorage Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Civil Air Patrol to search the mudflats, the water and the shoreline to find evidence of the pilot or potential passengers. Because the plane landed was found in the mudflats, Peters said it could have landed in the flats or in water during the high tide, but without more information it is impossible to tell which. The plane is underwater according to a Friday afternoon update of the dispatch. A trooper helicopter was sent to join in search and rescue efforts.

Investigators think the plane originated in McGrath, but no planes have been reported missing, according to the dispatch. In the absence of a tail number, Peters said there are several other methods for locating the plane’s pilot.

“We’re asking the public for help, for one thing,” she said.

Peters said the National Transportation Safety Board had been notified of the situation.

Anyone with knowledge about the plane or pilot is asked to call the troopers at 907-352-5401.

 

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com

 

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