Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Piper PA-18 Super Cub, N1203A, registered to the previous owner and operated by the pilot : Fatal accident occurred June 09, 2018 in Sitka, Alaska

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Juneau, Alaska

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Location: Sitka, AK
Accident Number: ANC18FA044
Date & Time: 06/09/2018, 2000 AKD
Registration: N1203A
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

On June 9, 2018, about 2000 Alaska daylight time, a float-equipped Piper PA-18 airplane, N1203A, was substantially damaged after impacting a river about 8 miles north-northeast of Sitka, Alaska. The commercial pilot and passenger received fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to the previous owner and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 visual flight rules other work use flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a flight plan was filed and activated. The local flight departed the Alaska Seaplane Base (A29) in Sitka, Alaska, about 1934.

The pilot was the co-owner of a lodge in Sitka, and according to a friend of the passenger who was travelling with him and staying at the lodge, the purpose of the flight was for the pilot to take the passenger on a short sightseeing flight near Katlian Bay to view mountain goats. The pilot filed a flight plan with the Juneau Flight Service Station (FSS) for a 56-minute flight that was due to return to A29 at 2030. When the airplane was deemed overdue, an alert notice (ALNOT) was issued by Juneau FSS at 2237 and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Juneau coordinated a search and rescue operation with the support of the Alaska State Troopers and the Civil Air Patrol. No emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was received.

According to USCG Sector Juneau records, a USCG MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter located the airplane on June 10 at 2210 about .2-mile up river from Katlian Bay on an arm of the Katlian River and a rescue swimmer observed that the pilot was fatally injured. A USCG helicopter located the fatally injured passenger downriver from the airplane on June 11 at 1009.

The airplane came to rest nose down in a small river surrounded by heavy brush and trees within a valley surrounded by steep mountainous terrain with the fuselage and wings sustaining substantial damage.

The wreckage has been recovered and a detailed examination is pending. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-320 series engine and an ACK E-01 121.5 MHz ELT.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N1203A
Model/Series: PA 18
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PASI, 67 ft msl
Observation Time: 1953 AKD
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C / 7°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 5000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots, 300°
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.9 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: SITKA, AK (A29)
Destination: SITKA, AK (A29)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 57.171667, -135.276667 (est)

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

Jim Ronge
February 10, 1952- June 9, 2018

A one of a kind husband, father and friend… Jim’s sudden death has shocked so many who loved him. Last week, he was in Sitka, Alaska with good friend Randy Smith for a fishing trip. On his last day of the trip, he seized the opportunity to go sightseeing. Jim died when the small plane he was traveling in crashed into the Katlian River. He is survived by his beloved wife of 42 years, Elaine, and two children Becky (Dan)and Joey. Jim also leaves his three cherished grandsons, Dylan, Hudson and Wyatt. Jim was born and raised in Lancaster, NY by Charles and Katherine Ronge. His older brother Charles (Cheryl) has passed away and Jim’s nephew, Bryan resides in Florida. Jim leaves his sister Betty Wick and her husband Mark, and their children Michelle and Steven, all now living in Colorado. Jim moved from the Buffalo, NY area in his 20s and resided in Southern California with Elaine. Through one of their many adventurous road trips, they discovered the Central Valley and decided to begin their family, residing in Turlock since 1981. Most of Jim’s career was spent as a member of the Cement Masons Union; he worked for 20 years on construction sites across the Valley. He then later worked in the Maintenance Department at the Stanislaus Fairgrounds in Turlock, retiring in November 2013. Family always came first for Jim. He prided himself on hosting family and friends in his home and on camping trips. There were countless road trips across the country to visit family in Buffalo, NY. Jim was fiercely loyal and could be counted on whenever a friend needed a hand. Working on cars was a passion and he was a familiar face at Turlock swap meets where he would haggle over antique car parts and make deals on his recent renovations. All will miss the laughter pouring out from his garage, where he was often found tinkering on one of his many projects. Family will be hosting a Celebration of Life on Saturday, August 4th from 3 – 6 PM at the fairgrounds in Turlock to share stories and support all the people who were touched by Jim.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.turlockjournal.com

The loss of Stonie “Mac” Huffman in a weekend float plane crash will be hard news for many Sitkans to take — especially those who remember his near-miraculous escape from death six years ago when his fishing boat capsized offshore.

Huffman was fishing off of Cape Edgecumbe in his 28-foot drop-bow troller, the Kaitlin Rae, on September 7, 2012, when the boat was swamped in heavy seas.

Neither Huffman or his deckhand, 19-year old Ryan Harris had time to radio a mayday call before the boat went under. Huffman managed to pull on a survival suit, and Harris got into an empty blue fish tote.

When the boat was reported overdue early the next morning the Coast Guard launched an intensive air search. Huffman drifted about 10 miles in his survival suit and went ashore — unharmed — at Pt. Amelia on the outer coast of Kruzof Island.

Ryan survived all night and the following day in the blue tote, when he was spotted by the troller Nerka near Gilmer Bay.

Both men were rescued by the Coast Guard roughly twenty-four hours after they went into the water.

Read a first-person account of the rescue of Ryan Harris in Tele Aadsen’s blog, “Hooked.”

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.kcaw.org

Two men died in a plane crash this weekend north of Sitka during a sightseeing trip. The National Transportation Safety Board and Alaska State Troopers are now on scene investigating.

According to the Coast Guard, the Piper float plane with two people aboard departed Sitka on Saturday for a 20-minute flight and never returned.

After an extensive search, an Air Station Sitka helicopter crew found the wrecked plane Sunday night. It was found submerged where the Katlian River meets the Katlian Bay.

The pilot, 45-year-old Stonie Huffman of Sitka, and passenger, 66-year-old James Ronge of California, were both located deceased. Ronge’s body was found after an extensive search on Monday.

In a published statement, Captain Stephen White with Coast Guard Sector Juneau said, “It’s with heavy hearts that we found the men deceased and our thoughts are with the families and friends of these individuals during this difficult time.”

Other agencies involved in the search included Civil Air Patrol, the Alaska Air National Guard, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Air Force, the Sitka Police and Fire Departments, and Sitka Mountain Rescue.

With the search over, the Alaska State Troopers and two National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) agents, Noreen Price and Eric Swenson, are now conducting an investigation of the incident. 

“The intent for the next 24 hours, or as soon as possible, is to get to the accident site and go ahead and document it to the best of our ability,” said Clint Johnson the Alaska Region Chief for NTSB. “[The plane] is partially submerged is in some brackish water, or a creek or a stream is our understanding right now. That’s all preliminary information. Then, we’ll go into recovery, as far as recovering the wreckage.”

The plane was a white and red colored PA-18 Super Cub float plane. It departed the Sitka seaplane dock on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. for a tour of Katlian Bay and Olga Strait.

Note: Pilot Stonie “Mac” Huffman, who perished in this weekend’s crash, previously was a survivor in a celebrated maritime rescue in 2012.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.kcaw.org

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