Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ski-equipped Piper PA-11, N5028H: Fatal accident occurred December 15, 2016 in Aniak, Alaska 

FAA Flight Standards District Office: Rochester, New York

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report  -    National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ANC17FA012
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 15, 2016 in Aniak, AK
Aircraft: PIPER PA 11, registration: N5028H
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 16, a phone call was received by the Alaska State Troopers from concerned family members stating the airplane had departed from Aniak about 1400 on December 15 for a flight to Marvel Creek and failed to return. Concerned, they departed Aniak in another airplane on December 16 to search for the overdue airplane. They located the wreckage on the southwest side of Marvel Dome at an elevation of about 2,000 feet above ground level (AGL) and observed no signs of life from the wreckage.

On December 17, the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) along with an Alaska State Trooper, arrived at the accident site about 1400 AST. The airplane impacted the southwest side of Marvel Dome in a near wings level attitude and came to rest inverted, about 20 feet uphill from the first piece of noticeable debris. Due to recent snowfall, no ground scars were visible. The propeller was separated from the engine at the propeller flange and located uphill about 80 feet. The remainder of the wreckage was contained at a single location with the fuselage coming to rest on top of the left wing.

The closest weather reporting facility was at the Aniak Airport, Aniak, Alaska, about 40 miles north of the accident site. At 1456, a weather observation from the Aniak Airport was reporting, in part: Wind, 110 degrees (true) at 07 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; cloud and sky conditions, clear; temperature, 30 degrees F; dew point, 30 degrees F; altimeter, 30.07inHg.

The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-320 series engine.

A detailed engine and airframe exam is pending recovery of the airplane.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Cecilia Matters and Mark Matters, showing off after a successful fishing trip. What love looks like.

Mark Matters, his fish and his plane.

Mark Matters, 62, surveys the area around his plane. Matters and his 63-year-old wife, Cecelia, both of Aniak, died in a plane crash.

A couple in their 60s died in a plane crash last week at Marvel Dome, an area northeast of Bethel.

Law enforcement officials identified the bodies of Mark Matter, 62, and his wife Cecilia Matter, 63, of Aniak. The two were longtime residents of the small Alaskan village, and leave behind an impossible-to-fill void for friends and family.

Mark and Cecilia Matter, married 41 years, were never apart for long. They couldn’t be.

“They were inseparable from the beginning,” said Donna Slaugh, one of the Matters’ daughters.

Donna flew back to Alaska from her home in Denver when she heard about the accident.

When they crashed, her parents were flying to their small gold mine near Marvel Creek in Mark’s red-and-white Piper PA-11. It was a familiar route; they had flown it most of their lives and most of their children’s lives.

“We moved up (to the mine) as kids the day school got out, and we came down the day before school started,” said Ivan, the Matters’ son, who currently runs the mine.

The Matter children are close, sometimes finishing each other’s thoughts.

“We stayed out there all summer long, worked every single day,” his sister breaks in, “rain or shine.”

Donna said Mark didn’t come to Alaska looking for gold, but came looking for something he didn’t have back East.

“He moved up here at age 19 from Pennsylvania. He wanted to take on the world,” Donna said.

Whatever he was looking for, he started to find it in Alaska.

“He worked odds-and-ends jobs so he could save up enough money to buy a plane, and when he got his plane he wanted to get into mining,” Donna said.

While getting his start in the mining industry he worked as firefighter, and that’s when Donna said he found something else: the person who would be his partner for life.

“He was a firefighter, he was a heli-tech, and they met at one of the camps,” Donna said.

Cecilia was living in Aniak at the time, and they had seen each other around. Within a year, Mark and Cecilia were married. They had children soon after, and Mark’s prospecting started to pay off.

Cecilia took on the job of making the business run, and was very successful. So successful that Mark became almost dependent on her, not just for the business, but for everything.

“Dad couldn’t function without Mom. He couldn’t fix himself meals or anything,” Donna said.

“She kept everybody going,” Ivan said. His sister breaks in again: “She was the lifeline of the family.”

Mark and Cecilia took their children to the mine and showed them what finding gold felt like; what finding love looked like.

The family and business both grew.

When they got older, Donna and their other daughter moved away; Ivan stayed around.

Then one day Cecilia got sick. Very sick.

Ivan said it broke his father’s heart. At the time of crash, Cecilia didn’t have long to live.

They left Aniak on Thursday, headed to the Marvel Creek mine in Mark’s Piper two-seater. It was a warm day, but they might have hit some rain on the other side of the Kilbuck mountains.

The cause of the crash is unknown, and will probably remain so.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined that whatever happened, it happened fast and both people were killed on impact.

Both Mark and Cecilia’s children and the community of Aniak are grieving.

Losing both their parents in single moment is devastating, but Ivan said that in a way this saved their mother from her sickness, and their father from having to live without her.

Story, photo gallery and audio:

Authorities have identified two people who died in a single-engine airplane crash last week northeast of Bethel.

In an online dispatch Monday, Alaska State Troopers identified the pilot as 62-year-old Mark Matter and 63-year-old Cecilia Matter, both of Aniak.

The Piper PA-11 reportedly left Aniak, a small village upriver from Bethel, Thursday at around 2 p.m. bound for a remote area near Marvel Creek.

Relatives flew out Friday to search the area after the pair failed to return and discovered the wreckage at an elevation of about 2,000 feet on the southeast side of Marvel Dome — part of the Kuskokwim Mountains.

The release stated that a chartered helicopter carrying a trooper and a National Transportation Safety Board investigator flew out to the site of the crash Saturday, where the crew was able to investigate the scene. AST stated that preliminary investigation shows the plane collided with Marvel Dome at a “high rate of speed.” The agency wrote that, “neither occupant survived the initial impact.”

The bodies have been taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for autopsy. The family of the victims has been notified.


Alaska State Troopers are reporting a plane crash near Aniak that possibly killed two people aboard a Piper PA-11.

Troopers based in Aniak were notified of the plane crash at Marvel Dome at 1:25 p.m. on Friday, according to a dispatch posted online. Marvel Dome is located about 4-5 miles from the Marvel Creek strip mine, troopers said.

A red and white Piper PA-11 with two people aboard was reported to have departed the Yukon-Kuskokwim community Thursday around 2 p.m., according to the dispatch. The plane was headed toward the Marvel Creek area.

"As the plane failed to return, family members flew out today to search. They located a crash site on the southeast side of Marvel Dome" at about 2,000 feet, the dispatch says.

National Transportation Safety Board Investigator Shaun Williams said there is little known about the crash and the area.

"It's the very early stages," Williams said Friday evening.

The family members told troopers the plane had been destroyed and the people on board were believed dead. "There were no signs of life," the dispatch says.
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But nothing has been confirmed, Williams said. Troopers tried to reach the site of the crash but turned back after weather conditions deteriorated. Williams said there is low visibility in the area. The National Weather Service forecast shows clouds with scattered snow showers in Aniak.

Troopers and Williams will try and reach the crash site Saturday, but their attempt depends on the weather.

Williams said he is still learning about the route the plane flew and the terrain in the area.

When the NTSB investigator reaches the scene, the first step is documenting the wreckage, how the plane impacted the ground and how it came to rest, he said. Evidence could be compromised due to weather – avionics, cellphones and GPS devices – will be removed from the scene, Williams said.

"We'll go through with a fine-toothed comb and try and figure out what happened," he said.

Story and comments:

Two people were reportedly killed when their single-engine airplane crashed on the side of a mountain northeast of Bethel, according to an online dispatch from the Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers were alerted to the crash shortly after 1 p.m. Friday.

The unnamed occupants of the Piper PA-11 reportedly left Aniak, a small village upriver from Bethel, Thursday at around 2 p.m. bound for a remote area near Marvel Creek.

Relatives flew out Friday to search the area after the pair failed to return and discovered the wreckage at an elevation of about 2000 feet on the southeast side of Marvel Dome — part of the Kuskokwim Mountains.

“It was reported that the plane was destroyed and the people on board were believed to be deceased as a result of the crash,” AST wrote.

A Cessna 182 from the Alaska Department of Public Safety, from Aniak, failed in its attempt to reach the crash site Friday due to poor weather conditions, according to AST.

Troopers, along with an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board, will attempt to reach the crash site Saturday.

Story and comments:

ANIAK, AK (KTUU) Two people are believed to be dead today following a fatal plane crash at Marvel Dome near Aniak, according to a statement by the Alaska State Troopers.

The troopers say the aircraft, a red and white Piper PA-11, left Aniak at around 2 P.M. and headed for the Marvel Creek area.

When the plane didn’t return, family members flew out today to search for the missing two occupants.

The crash site was located on the southeast side of the Marvel Dome. The plane was destroyed and those onboard are believed to have been killed in the crash.

The NTSB has been notified and the DPS ASTAR with an NTSB investigator and Aniak based State Troopers will attempt to respond to the area tomorrow to conduct recovery efforts.


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