Thursday, July 19, 2018

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, registered to Laughlin Acquisitions, LLC and operated by Alaska Skyways Inc dba Regal Air, N9878R: Fatal accident occurred July 18, 2018 in Willow, Alaska

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

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Willow, AK
Accident Number: ANC18FA055
Date & Time: 07/18/2018, 1900 AKD
Registration: N9878R
Aircraft: De Havilland DHC-2 MK l (L20A)
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled 

On July 18, 2018, about 1900 Alaska daylight time, a float-equipped De Havilland DHC-2 (Beaver) airplane, N9878R, impacted tree-covered terrain following a loss of control during the initial climb from the Willow Seaplane Base, Willow, Alaska. Of the three people on board, the airline transport pilot died at the scene, and the two passengers received serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by a postcrash fire. The airplane was registered to Laughlin Acquisitions, LLC, and operated by Alaska Skyways, Inc., dba Regal Air, as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 visual flight rules on-demand passenger flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and company flight following procedures were in effect. The accident flight originated from the Willow Seaplane Base about 1900 and was destined for a remote, unnamed lake about 61 miles northwest of Willow.

The operator reported that the accident flight was chartered by the Alaska Medicaid Travel Office to provide roundtrip transportation for one passenger from her private residence at the remote lake, to the Willow Seaplane Base and return. The operator flew the passenger and her 2.5-year-old son from their home to Willow Seaplane Base on July 16, and the accident flight was the chartered return trip to their residence.

On July 19, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) reviewed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) archived automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) track data concerning the accident flight. According to the ADS-B track data, on July 18, the accident airplane departed from the Lake Hood Seaplane Base about 1755 and arrived at the Willow Seaplane Base about 1818.

Witnesses reported that after arriving at the Willow Seaplane Base, the pilot loaded the passenger's cargo, which according to a statement provided by the passenger, consisted of multiple bags of masonry mortar, three totes full of food and stores, two propane tanks, and miscellaneous baggage and supplies. Just prior to departure, the passenger was seated in the second row with her son on her lap.

As part of their company flight following procedures, Regal Air incorporates Spidertracks, which provides company management personnel with a real-time, moving map display of the airplane's progress. According to archived Spidertracks data provided by Regal Air, the airplane began an initial takeoff run to the south at 1851. Numerous witnesses at Willow Lake stated that the airplane appeared heavy as they watched two takeoff attempts followed by a takeoff on the third run. At least three separate witnesses recorded the takeoff attempts on their mobile phones due to what they perceived as an unusual operation. Each witness stated that the airplane departed to the south and descended out of sight below the tree line. Soon thereafter, a loud airplane impact was heard.

At 1900, multiple residents in a neighborhood southeast of Willow Lake heard a loud impact and witnessed smoke rising above the site. A neighbor responded and discovered the passenger walking with her son in her arms, outside of the airplane which was engulfed in flames. The Willow Fire Department and Alaska State Troopers responded. The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received a 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter signal at 1901 and dispatched a HH-60 helicopter to the site.

On July 18, immediately after being notified of the accident, the NTSB IIC, along with an aviation safety inspector from the FAA's Anchorage Flight Standards District Office traveled to the site.

The airplane wreckage came to rest in a level wooded residential lot in a nose down attitude. The postcrash fire incinerated the fuselage, empennage, floats, and cargo.

The airplane was outfitted with Aerocet model 5850 floats and equipped with a Pratt and Whitney R-985 radial engine.

The closest official weather observation station to the accident site was located at the Willow Airport, about 1 miles to the northeast. On July 18, 2018, at 1956, the station was reporting, in part: wind variable at 3 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; ceiling and clouds, clear; temperature 72° F; dew point 46° F; altimeter 30.15 inches of mercury.

The wreckage has been recovered and transported to a secure location for future examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: De Havilland
Registration: N9878R
Model/Series: DHC-2 MK l (L20A)
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Alaska Skyways, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As: Regal Air
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAUO, 205 ft msl
Observation Time: 0356 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Light and Variable / , Variable
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.15 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Willow, AK (2X2)
Destination: Skwentna, AK 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 61.729444, -150.048056 (est)

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

Colt Thomas Richter
 (1994 - 2018)

Colt Thomas Richter was born on June 21, 1994, in Anchorage, Alaska, and died on July 18, 2018, at the age of 24, in a tragic airplane accident.

Colt attended Rogers Park Elementary, Romig Middle School and graduated Summa Cum Laude from West Anchorage High School in 2012. In high school, he was active in many organizations, including the varsity ski team and the Alaska team for the "We the People" Constitutional Law competition in Washington D.C. His Alaska team placed in the top 10 in the nation. Colt joined the Anchorage Youth Court in 2008, serving as a defense attorney and then Chief Justice and, in addition, helped mentor many of his peers.

After high school, Colt went on to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2016. Colt was an active member of many of the University's organizations, including the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and the Ohms a cappella group. He served four years as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician on campus and in his junior year became the Chief of Emergency Services for MIT and the surrounding Cambridge area. During his junior and senior years, he co-taught a course at MIT on basic flight aerodynamics, safety and regulations. He had an active leadership role in the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, which provides a challenging and supportive environment for students to develop skills to help them become highly effective future leaders. Colt was one of three undergraduate students selected to serve on the Advisory Council for the President of MIT. 

Colt was a lifelong Alaskan and adventurous world traveler. He visited much of the U.S., as well as many locales overseas, including Croatia, Japan, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe. He was also an avid outdoorsman who loved to fly, fish, hunt, camp, ski and skydive. He truly loved to do anything outdoors. Colt was his father's co-pilot from an early age, earned his pilot's license on his 17th birthday and became a flight instructor and Airline Transport Pilot. For the past four years, Colt worked as a commercial pilot for several companies in Alaska, including Fly Denali, Hilcorp, Ravn Air and Regal Air. He was also an accomplished musician who could sing, play piano and guitar.

Colt's dream was to become an orthopedic surgeon and he was set to start University of Washington medical school this August. He was committed to the well-being and service of others.

Colt was an amazing person, son, friend and colleague. His drive and passion for learning was unparalleled, yet he was known to be modest about his knowledge and accomplishments. Colt was a most trusted friend, confidant and advisor, who made everyone around him want to be the best version of themselves. He did not waste a moment of his time on this Earth, and he made it clear how much he cared about his friends and family. He will be remembered as a "best friend" to many people, an inspiration to everyone who knew him and the perfect son to his parents.

Colt was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents; maternal grandfather, Lt. Col. (Ret.) USAF, Thomas Dolan; and aunt, Jill Richardson. He is survived by his loving parents, Cathy and Rick Richter; his maternal grandmother, Barbara Dolan; his adoring aunts, Carolyn and Susan Dolan; and countless friends and family members.

The world is dimmer for having lost Colt, but heaven is brighter for having gained him. Blue skies and tailwinds to the best person so many of us were fortunate enough to know.

Funeral services will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 616 West 10th Avenue in Anchorage, on Thursday, July 26, 2018, at 11 a.m., followed by burial services at Angelus Memorial Park, 440 East Klatt Road. A celebration of life will be held at Hilltop Chalet, 7015 Abbott Road, on Friday, July 27, 2018, from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Flowers may be sent to First Presbyterian Church or, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Colt's name to either the Anchorage Youth Court, the Alaska Red Cross or a charity of your choice.

Photo provided by: Cathy Richter

Get to know Colt Richter

September 8, 2012

Colt Richter, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, says that after graduating from  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he’d like to return to his home state. With a degree in chemical engineering, he says he could explore a career in Alaska’s petroleum industry.

But he says aeronautical and astronautical engineering also beckons, as flying has been in his family for generations: Richter’s grandfather was a pilot in World War II, and later became a commercial airline pilot, moving the family to Alaska after he secured a job with Japan Airlines. As a child, Richter flew small planes with his father and received his pilot’s license on his 17th birthday.

“I’ve kind of grown up around aviation,” Richter says. “We have a cabin about 50 miles from Anchorage that you have to fly to in order to get to. So my whole life I’ve been surrounded by it.”

Something else that surrounds Richter: Alaska’s towering mountain ranges, which he’s appreciated from a very young age. “I started downhill skiing when I was about 3,” Richter recalls; he more recently transitioned to competitive Nordic skiing as part of his high school ski team.

While he’s looking forward to a new beginning at MIT and living on his own, Richter says one of the things he’ll miss most about home is the view. “Here, I can look out my window and see mountains,” Richter said in a phone call from his Alaska home. “In Boston, it’s really, really flat.”

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A deadly plane crash in Willow has claimed the life of a pilot, but family members say he was much more than just a young man who loved to fly.

"A loving son and a generous friend" are the words family members used to describe 24-year-old Colt Richter.

Richter was a graduate of West High School and had earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusettes Institute of Technology. A 2012 profile article released by MIT News shows Richter had a love of aviation from a young age. "As a child, Richter flew small planes with his father and received his pilot's license on his 17th birthday," the article reads.

He told the publication, "We have a cabin about 50 miles from Anchorage that you have to fly to in order to get to. So my whole life I've been surrounded by it."

In an email to Channel 2 News, Richter's mother Cathy said her son had been working as a commercial pilot for the past four years and had plans to start med school next month at the University of Washington.

"Colt loved the Alaskan way of life and enjoyed hunting, fishing and anything that involved the outdoors," Richter wrote about her son.

Two other people, a woman and toddler, were injured in the crash. The boy has been released from the hospital, and the woman is still recovering, but was able to talk to NTSB investigators.

Story and video:

Witnesses say the pilot who was killed in Wednesday night’s plane crash near Willow Lake may have overloaded his aircraft.

Troopers say Colt Richter, 24, was flying for Regal Air when he took off from Willow Lake on his way to FBI Lake with two passengers. He crashed just a minute later.

Phillip Stanger watched Richter make several attempts to take off and recorded the efforts on his cellphone.

The video shows Richter’s plane circling the lake three times.

“Full throttle, engine is getting hot,” Stanger described. “I knew he was overloaded, there was no way he was going to get off the water but he did.”

Stanger said the plane made it a little more than a mile before he heard the crash.

“He stalled, he went straight down," Stanger said. "There were no trees clipped, no power lines taken out. He just dropped like a rock."

Stanger and some friends got in his van and drove to the site to help. He said the two passengers, a woman and her young son, were in shock so he put them in the van until an ambulance arrived.

“Her legs were burned, arms were all messed up," Stanger said. "She was in a lot of pain."

Then they tried to look for the pilot but Stanger said the flames were so intense they weren’t able to get close to the aircraft.

“I was very surprised to see anyone alive," he said.

Stanger said he started flying in the 1970s and can tell when an aircraft is too heavy. The video shows Richter’s floats protruding from the water; Stanger said during takeoff the floats should be parallel with the water.

“You can see how the airplane was mushing through the water,” Stanger said. “He should have been off in 10 seconds but he was out here for at least ten minutes circling.”

Stanger believed the plane may have been hauling building materials, like bricks.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash.

NTSB investigator Noreen Price said weight and balance are an important part of every investigation, but said it’s too soon to tell whether those issues were a factor in this crash. She said witness statements and video will help investigators determine the takeoff weight.

Price said the maximum weight load for a de Havilland Beaver like the plane that crashed is typically 5,100 pounds. She doesn’t yet know, however, what Richter’s plane was carrying or how much it weighed.

“The plane really suffered catastrophic fire after impact and destroyed pretty much everything that was on board the airplane,” Price said.

NTSB investigators will remove the wreckage and take it to a secure location for a more in-depth examination. A preliminary report is usually issued about a week after a crash.

Regal Air declined to comment.

Story and video ➤

Alaska State Troopers have identified the pilot who was killed in a plane crash near Willow Lake Wednesday night. 

According to troopers online dispatch Thursday morning, Colt Richter, 24, of Anchorage, was flying for Regal Air when the plane went down. 

"Richter took off at Willow Lake enroute to FBI lake in the Skwentna area with cargo and two passengers," troopers wrote. "Immediately after takeoff, the plane crashed into a wooded area of a residential area." 

The wreckage is located in the woods, about 20-feet from Barrington Loop. 

On Thursday morning, a witness said he watched the plane try to take off two or three times and "knew the pilot was in trouble."

Ken Barkley, the borough's deputy director of emergency services, said the pilot was killed in the crash south of the lake was first reported at about 7 p.m.

Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch on Wednesday that the crash took place near Mile 69 of the Parks Highway, near Barrington Loop and Long Lake Road.

Troopers and Alaska Division of Forestry crews responded along with Mat-Su firefighters and medics, to the crash of a propeller-driven de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver. The plane was a commercially contracted flight, troopers said, but didn't mention which carrier was operating it; its pilot was not related to the passengers.

Two passengers, described by Barkley as a 30-year-old mother and a 2-year-old child, survived with what troopers said "are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries."

"We do not know the extent of their injuries," said trooper Sgt. Brent Johnson. "They were conscious; I think they were ambulatory."

Willow resident Trisha Wyrick said she heard the aftermath of the crash, including a fire in the aircraft, as residents helped the mother and child escape.

"I could hear her screaming for help and the flames were -- the flames were pretty big," Wyrick said. "[My neighbor] was out there and he was able to help her, and there was another car that drove up too and they were able to help as well to get her out."

A Federal Aviation Administration weather camera looking southwest from the Willow Airport showed smoke rising from the area shortly after 7 p.m.

Emergency services director Otto Feather said the plane burned after the crash, with crews still trying to extinguish a blaze that had spread to wildlands as of 8 p.m.

"We have the wildfire contained in that area," Feather said. "Right now we're trying to put out the fire in the aircraft -- the engine contains some magnesium that still wants to burn."

Neighbors reported hearing several explosions after the plane went down. A burned propane tank was found at the crash site.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, said the NTSB had been notified of the crash and was still gathering information on the aircraft, its origin and destination.

Story and video ➤

Fire from Willow plane crash as seen from the air.

A Federal Aviation Administration weather camera at the Willow Airport shows smoke from the area of a nearby plane crash on July 18, 2018.

WILLOW, Alaska (KTUU) — July 19, 9 a.m. Update:

Authorities have identified the man who was piloting the plane that went down in the area of Willow Lake, killing him and injuring the other two on board.

The victim is Colt Richter, 24, of Anchorage, according to Megan Peters, spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers.

Richter was flying for Regal Air and reportedly took off from Willow Lake, headed to FBI Lake in the Skwentna area. On board were two passengers who survived the crash and other cargo.

According to troopers, "Immediately after takeoff, the plane crashed into a wooded area of a residential area."

The NTSB is conducting an interview into what exactly happened with the plane and why it crashed.

Original Story:

A plane crash in Willow killed one person and started a wildfire Wednesday night, while two others suffered non-life threatening injuries according to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers received reports of the crash at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Long Lake Road and Barrington Loop, just west of milepost 69 of the Parks Highway.

Alaska State Troopers, Wildlife Troopers, Division of Forestry, and Mat-Su emergency crews are on the scene. Clint Johnson with the NTSB confirmed that a team member was dispatched to investigate.

Original article can be found here ➤

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