A pilot and one passenger survived a float plane crash Tuesday near the Niblack Mine on Prince of Wales Island. Authorities say the two survivors were the only occupants on the plane when it went down.
The Dehavilland Beaver, owned by Ketchikan-based Southeast Aviation, crashed shortly after takeoff.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeremy Dawkins, a search and rescue controller out of Juneau, says the Ketchikan Flight Station contacted the Coast Guard at around 11 a.m. to report an Emergency Locator Transmitter was going off in the vicinity of Annette and Gravina Islands.
Upon further investigation, Dawkins says the Coast Guard discovered a floatplane that was travelling from the Niblack Mine to Ketchikan had been reported overdue.
“We put out an urgent Marine Information Broadcast … having good Samaritans or anybody in the area to just keep an eye out for any correlating information. A good (Samaritan) in the vicinity of Niblack reported to us that they came upon a plane in the water and two survivors on the beach,” Dawkins says.
He says a boat out of Niblack picked the two up and brought them to a stationary barge at the Niblack Mine.
Dawkins says the two were transported by helicopter to the PeaceHealth Medical Center in Ketchikan.
“There were some injuries. They were banged up pretty good. They are mobile and they are stable at this time,” he said.
The names of the pilot and passenger were not immediately released.
Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad and State Troopers participated in the search and rescue effort.
KVRS Incident Commander Jerry Kiffer says two helicopters out of Ketchikan responded to the scene — one operated by Guardian Flight and a second Temsco helicopter chartered by KVRS.
He says medics treated the two on scene before they were flown on the Guardian helicopter to Ketchikan.
Kiffer says the Southeast Aviation floatplane crashed not far from the Niblack operation on eastern Prince of Wales.
“The aircraft is on the beach at the mouth of the bay, partially submerged,” he said.
Kiffer says the crash occurred right after takeoff.
“The pilot of the aircraft indicated that it was during the takeoff and climb out evolution,” he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the crash Tuesday afternoon.
“I don’t have any details of what precipitated the accident,” said NTSB investigator Chris Shaver.
Shaver says personnel from the NTSB or the Federal Aviation Administration would travel to the area to conduct an on-scene investigation.