Saturday, August 08, 2020

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, N4982U and Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser, N2587M: Fatal accident occurred July 31, 2020 in Soldotna, Alaska

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.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska
High Adventure Air Charter; Soldotna, Alaska

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Soldotna Aircraft & Equipment Leasing LLC

Location: Soldotna, AK 
Accident Number: ANC20LA074
Date & Time: July 31, 2020, 08:27 Local
Registration: N4982U (A1); N2587M (A2)
Aircraft: De Havilland DHC-2 (A1); Piper PA 12 (A2)
Injuries: 6 Fatal (A1); 1 Fatal (A2)
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Non-scheduled (A1); Part 91: General aviation - Personal (A2)

On July 31, 2020, about 0827 Alaska daylight time, a de Havilland DHC-2 (Beaver) airplane, N4982U, and a Piper PA-12 airplane, N2587M, were destroyed when they were involved in an accident near Soldotna, Alaska. Both pilots and the five passengers on the DHC-2 were fatally injured. The DHC-2 was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 on-demand charter flight. The PA-12 was operated as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight.

The float-equipped DHC-2, operated by High Adventure Charter, departed Longmere Lake, Soldotna, about 0824 bound for a remote lake on the west side of Cook Inlet. The purpose of the flight was to transport the passengers to a remote fishing location. The PA-12, operated by a private individual, departed Soldotna Airport, Soldotna, Alaska, about 0824 bound for Fairbanks, Alaska.

Preliminary flight track data revealed that the DHC-2 was traveling northwest about 1,175 ft mean sea level (msl) and gradually climbing about 78 knots (kts) when it crossed the Sterling Highway. The PA-12 was traveling northeast about 1,175 ft msl and about 71 kts north of and parallel to the Sterling Highway. The airplanes collided about 2.5 miles northeast of the Soldotna airport at an altitude of about 1,175 ft msl and data signals were lost. See Figure 1 for the airplanes' flight tracks.

A witness located near the accident site observed the DHC-2 traveling in a westerly direction and the PA-12 traveling in a northerly direction. He stated that the PA-12 impacted the DHC-2 on the left side of the fuselage toward the back of the airplane. After the collision, he observed what he believed to be the DHC-2's left wing separate, and the airplane entered an uncontrolled, descending counterclockwise spiral before disappearing from view. He did not observe the PA-12 following the collision.

The DHC-2 main wreckage was heavily fragmented and located in a wooded residential area; the fuselage was oriented on a heading of about 270° at an elevation of about 240 ft. A debris field about 300 ft long and oriented on about a 327° heading included the engine, fuselage, wings, vertical stabilizer, and portions of the floats. Dark green paint transfers consistent with the PA-12 were observed on the aft fuselage of the DHC-2. The PA-12 main wreckage was located about 600 ft east of the DHC-2. The airplane impacted in a near vertical attitude and came to rest at an elevation of about 258 ft. The horizontal stabilizer and one elevator from the DHC-2 were found intertwined in the wreckage of the PA-12.

The DHC-2 was registered to Soldotna Aircraft and Equipment Leasing. A registration card located inside the PA-12 identified the airplane as a Piper PA-12 with a registration number of N2587M. The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) registration database revealed that N2587M was a valid registration for a Piper PA-12 assigned to the pilot. However, the PA-12's exterior registration number identified the airplane as N1904T; in addition, the word "EXPERIMENTAL" was applied to the inside of the lower clam shell door. A search of the FAA registration database revealed that the registration number had been reserved by the pilot but was not a valid registration.

According to information on file with the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, the pilot of the PA-12 was denied medical certification in June 2012 by the Alaska Regional Flight Surgeon due to vision problems. The denial was appealed and sustained in July 2012.

Neither airplane was equipped with, nor were they required to be equipped with, a crashworthy flight data or cockpit voice recorder. Several avionics components and personal electronic devices were recovered from the wreckage areas. These components and devices were shipped to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC, for further examination.

A detailed wreckage examination of both airplanes is pending. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information (A1)

Aircraft Make: De Havilland 
Registration: N4982U
Model/Series: DHC-2 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information (A2)

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N2587M
Model/Series: PA 12 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PASX, 113 ft msl
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C /11°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 8500 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: 

Wreckage and Impact Information (A1)

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 5 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 6 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 60.495555,-151.01693

Wreckage and Impact Information (A2)

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 60.495555,-151.01693

Longtime Alaskan and Kenai resident, Mr. Gary Allan Knopp, 63, died July 31st, 2020 in a tragic plane accident near Soldotna, Alaska.

Gary was born July 14, 1957 in Whitefish, Montana. He moved to Alaska in 1979 living in Anchorage, Sterling and Kenai. Gary was in the Alaska State Legislature, Representative of House District 30. He also owned and operated G&H Construction with his wife Helen.

Gary was elected to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in 2006. He served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly from 2006 to 2012, serving as President from 2010 to 2012. Gary returned to the Assembly in 2015 before being elected to represent District 30 at the State level in 2016. He loved flying, hunting, fishing, and golfing.

He was preceded in death by his father, Herbert Knopp; mother, Celia Knopp; sisters, Lorraine Zable, Leona Cunningham, and Lucille Treat.

He is survived by his wife, Helen Knopp of Kenai; brothers, Gordon Knopp of Post Falls, Idaho and Raymond Knopp of Kalispell, Montana; sisters, Linda Smith of Tacoma, WA; Loretta Johnson of Anchorage and LaVonne Crawford of Gig Harbor, WA.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the church in Gary’s name. Any condolences may be sent to Helen Knopp - 50465 Patrick Drive‬ - Kenai, Alaska 99611‬.

Services will be held for Representative Gary Knopp ‪on Saturday August 8, 2020‬. There will be a Mass of Christian burial at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, ‪222 W. Redoubt Ave. Soldotna, Alaska‬ ‪at 12:00 PM‬. Father Patrick Brosamer will be officiating.

A Celebration of Life will follow the service at Hutchings Auto Spa ‪44110 Sterling Hwy. Soldotna, Alaska.‬ Due to concerns regarding COVID-19 food will not be provided. However, The Hearth Eatery food truck will have food for purchase on site.  Arrangements made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel & Crematory. Please sign or visit his online guestbook at

Greg Bell, who was 57, was a co-owner of High Adventure Air Charter, a lifelong Soldotna resident.

The central Kenai Peninsula community was shocked on Friday when two small planes collided above Soldotna and killed all seven people onboard.

The crash happened around 8:30 a.m. A de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver from High Adventure Air Charter on Longmere Lake collided midair with a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser, piloted by state Rep. Gary Knopp of Kenai, sending both planes down around Mayoni Street just east of town.

It’s still not clear what happened. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. And the community is mourning the loss.

The pilot of the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver plane was 57-year-old Greg Bell. Bell was a co-owner of High Adventure Air Charter, a lifelong Soldotna resident and a longtime pilot.

Friends, colleagues and clients remembered him as a cheerful, skilled pilot and a man of faith.

“He was very, very conscientious, very personable,” said Gary Fandrei, of Kenai. “He was always aware of what other people’s need were, always wanted to make everyone comfortable.”

Fandrei took over at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in the early 1990s. Back then, he said he flew with Bell and his brother Mark at High Adventure Air Charter almost daily.

Fandrei said Bell was a leader in his family and business.

“I think Greg is going to be missed not only by the family and the community as well,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that this is the way things worked out for him. I wish the family the best of luck.”

Bell was born and raised in Alaska, and the charter business was a family endeavor.

Over the decades, the company grew. It now employs nine guides and multiple office staff and pilots.

In addition to the bear viewing, transportation and fishing charters, Bell also regularly worked with agencies like the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Cook Inlet Aquaculture, a nonprofit that works to protect and enhance salmon stocks.

Sen. Peter Micciche of Soldotna remembered Bell’s dedication to safety and recalled his dedication to a job.

On a trip to the west side of the inlet several years ago, Micciche said, Bell was supposed to pick him up, but the wind kicked up. Just as they thought they’d have to wait out the weather, they heard a boat motor coming down the river.

“After a little while we hear a little engine, look over and it’s Greg in a skiff,” he said. “That’s the kind of pilot he was. We all froze to death going back, but he didn’t want to leave us another night in that weather, and he wouldn’t consider taking off in the crosswinds on the river, so he took us all the way up the river to the lake where they had some other assets.”

So you just always knew you were in the best of hands — he would take no chances, he was a gentleman,” Micciche said.

He said Bell’s faith was strong and evident, describing him as a “perfect Christian gentleman.”

That didn’t stop Bell from being an excellent hockey player, though, Micciche said. Bell will be missed by the community, and Micciche urged locals to support his family in every way they can.

“I ask the community to please do what they can to support the Bell family, his wife and everyone at High Adventure Air are going through a very tough time,” he said. “I think I they hear of opportunities to support them, do so, and obviously as well as Rep. Knopp’s family. But it’s a tough time for them.”

Bell was flying with five passengers: David Rogers, a guide, and four visitors from South Carolina: Caleb Hulsey, Heather Hulsey, Mackay Hulsey, and Kirsten Wright, all in their 20s.

Tributes on social media from various community members, lawmakers and past clients offered prayers and condolences to the families involved.

The investigation into the cause of the crash continues. The NTSB reportedly went to the scene to collect the parts of the planes and will continue to investigate.

Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price offered her condolences to everyone who lost a loved one in the crash Friday, calling it an unfathomable tragedy.

David Rogers

David Allen John Rogers, age 40 of Stockton, Kansas, passed away on July 31, 2020 from a tragic, small craft mid-air collision in Soldotna, Alaska. He was born on January 10, 1980, in Denver, Colorado. He was raised by his mother Renee (Hollingsworth) Rogers and husband Nick. On February 14, 2002, he was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Rhonda Hebert in Golden, Colorado. They were blessed with three children, Madison, Ben, and Troy.

David grew up in Denver and graduated from Bear Creek High School with the Class of 1998. After graduation David immediately entered the workforce. For several years he did various jobs in pipefitting, carpentry, hardwood flooring, installing windows with Uncle Brent, and washing semis with Grandpa Lloyd. He liked traveling with Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Lloyd, and developed a deep passion for the outdoors, especially hunting, camping, and fishing. He made up his mind early on, that somehow, someway, he was going to be a professional wilderness guide.

That dream became a reality when David moved his family to Stockton. During the Summer months, he spent his days leading adventures on the Alaskan frontier, and would then return home to do the same in Rooks County, and surrounding areas, the rest of the year, through his own hunting guide business, “Beyond The Bend.” He chose that name because true to his adventurous spirit, he always knew there was something amazing, wonderful, and surprising just waiting for him and his fearless compadres, over, around, or beyond the next bend of whatever river, road, or trail they were traveling.

David had a sense of humor that was all his own. His infectious smile and use of clever sayings, known as “Davisms,” like “you get what you go get” could always put friends, family, and strangers at ease, even if there was a little tension in the air between folks. It didn’t matter who you were, when you heard him say, “We came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum! And we’re all out of bubble gum!” well, all you could do was laugh, shake your head in agreement, and get on with gettin’ along.

Unapologetic for being himself, he didn’t embarrass easily, if at all. If his clothes didn’t match, so what? If he had a tough day in the fields and came home with half a shirt and most of his sock material missing, who cares? And if he was driving, swerving on the road, looking for deer, turkeys, or sheds, you’d best just stay out of his way, or hold on for dear life if you were riding with him. Although his mom always told him to be, “Less like a rocket ship and more like a balloon,” having that Rogers’ stubborn streak, and one-track mind, he didn’t always heed that advice real close.

With all of his million-dollar ideas, like seasoned shotgun shells, David had his own unique flair in the culinary department as well. First of all, butter is not just an occasional condiment, it is a food group unto itself that goes on everything. Second, the best treat while traveling the frozen tundra of Alaska, is a PBJ Smoothie, nothing else will do. And finally, all we really know about the Coffee Bomb, is that you take unspecified portions of coffee, hot chocolate, and heavy whipping cream, then add a ridiculous amount of butter with a dash of cinnamon, and then, well, there you have it. Probably called the Bomb because it would simply take out the average coffee drinker. It is definitely not for lightweights. Which would explain the huge amount of adrenaline, buzz, and excitement, as he loudly and proudly proclaim at the beginning of each hunting excursion, “Let’s go get our asses kicked!”

Never one to shy away from saying, “I love you,” David was a devoted family man, husband, and father. He was an early morning guy, so, when he got up, it was time for everyone to be up. Although, at times, family came dragging out of bed, they knew the day was always going to be full of fun and good times. A devoted TikTok-er, well, really an obsessed addict, he spent hours sharing clips and videos with his kids, laughing and carrying on, in their own little world of sheer joy and hilarity. And, if he started to take off his socks, look out, because somebody was getting hit!

An avid sports fan, especially when his kids were playing, David was the quintessential sideline coach for every kid, no matter the sport. Always encouraging them, he strived to help them be their best at everything, and often reminded them, “If you can’t see yourself making it, you won’t.” Supplied with popcorn, water, and Snickers bars at every game, he made sure that winning was a joyous yet humble celebration, and losing was just another step forward with a lesson on how to do better next time.

Left to mourn David’s untimely passing are his wife, Rhonda of the home in Stockton; his children, Madison of Topeka, and Ben and Troy Rogers of Stockton; mother Renee Rogers of Hays, KS; father Nick Rogers of Littleton, CO; sister, Hollie Aukland and husband Craig of Littleton, CO; brothers, Ty Rogers of Brooklyn, NY, and Christopher Rogers of Huntsville, TX; grandparents, Bill and Sharon Rogers of Lakewood, CO; parents-in-law, Joe and Sue Hebert of Denver, CO; sisters and brothers-in-law, Lynn and Dave Montoya of Buena Vista, CO and Melissa and Adam Fearn of Lakewood, CO; nieces and nephews, Payton and Braylon Aukland, Ayden and Avery Fearn, and Cheyenne, Colton, and Tucker Montoya; and many aunts, uncles, and friends.

Preceding David in death are his grandparents Lloyd and Ruby Hollingsworth; Mike Graham; and Michelle Hollingsworth.

The Word of God instructs us, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know what the hand of the Lord has done? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” David was a man of deep and growing faith. Although he did not realize it when he began, the more time he spent in the whole of God’s creation, day by day, closer and closer, the Lord was gently drawing him to Himself. Drawing him into a deeper understanding of life and love, and what it means to be a man, not just within his own heart and soul, but in the hearts and souls of his family, friends, neighbors, and God. In the final moments of his life, we do not know exactly what happened, but one thing is certain, as David flew over the beautiful landscape of the Alaskan heartland, just above the breaking clouds, we hope he felt, in that moment, as if he could reach out and touch the very face of God. Then suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, he did.

The service will be live-streamed.  Memorials are suggested to the David Rogers Memorial Fund and may be sent in care of Plumer-Overlease Funeral Home, 723 N. 1st, Stockton, KS 67669, or please find the Venmo QR Code on the Tribute Wall page.

Pictured left to right: Caleb Hulsey and Heather Hulsey, Mackay Husley and Kirstin Wright.
(Courtesy of the Family)

SOLDOTNA, ALASKA (FOX Carolina) Alaskan state officials say seven people were killed when two planes collided over the Kenai Peninsula Friday morning, including four passengers from South Carolina.

According to a press release from the Alaska Department of Public Safety, the mid-air collision happened around 8:30 a.m. local time over Soldotna. The initial plane crash was near mile 91.5 of the Sterling Highway, which was shut down temporarily due to safety concerns. Most of the wreckage was found 200 yards from the road, and had multiple witnesses reporting it. The release indicated multiple agencies, from local police and state troopers to the FAA, have all responded.

Alaska State Troopers say one plane involved had a single occupant, while the other aircraft had six people onboard. While one person was found alive on the scene, that initial survivor passed away, succumbing to injuries en route to the local hospital.

Those who passed away were identified as follows:

Alaska state Representative Gary Knopp of Kenai, the sole occupant in one plane
Gregory Bell, 67, of Soldotna, the pilot of the other plane
David Rogers, a 40-year-old guide from Kansas
Caleb Hulsey, age 26, from South Carolina
Heather Hulsey, age 25, from South Carolina
Mackay Hulsey, age 24, of South Carolina
Kirstin Wright, age 23, of South Carolina

According to family and friends, the Hulsey family was on vacation during the time.

The family provided a statement on the four victims:

"Both couples were high school sweethearts.

Caleb and Heather started dating in 2010 and recently got married in 2019. Mackay and Kirsten have been dating since 2011 and had plans to get married.

They all had a love of each other and their families and animals and traveled all over the world together with Heather, Alan and Harrison.

Caleb worked with his father at palmetto SoundWorks and Mackay was a personal trainer. Heather was an art teacher at Dawkins middle school and Kirsten worked for pinnacle hospitality as a social media director.

Caleb and Heather were in the process of purchasing a home, a bigger home to start their family.

Family is requesting that in lieu of flowers or anything else that donations are made to Christmas In Action. Contact information is Cindy Barrett which the entire family was involved with extensively for the past 10 years.”

Saturday morning, Spartanburg County School District Six Superintendent Owings announced via Facebook that Heather Husley was an art teacher at Dawkins Middle School.

The District Six family is heartbroken after learning that a Dawkins Middle school art teacher, Heather Hulsey, passed away in a plane accident during a trip to Alaska. Heather was an inspiring teacher who had a tremendous impact on her students and colleagues. She was a wonderful person who was well-loved by our school community. Heather’s husband, Caleb Hulsey, his brother Mackay, and friend, Kirstin Wright, also passed away. The Hulsey family is strongly connected to our District Six family. This is a tragedy beyond words. We ask that you keep their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Dr. Darryl Owings
District Six Superintendent

The NTSB was notified and will begin their investigation, per Alaska DPS.

“This is an unfathomable tragedy for multiple families today. The DPS sends a heartfelt condolence to all who lost a loved one in this mid-air collision,” said Commissioner Amanda Price, Department of Public Safety. “Troopers and partner agencies have worked together diligently at the scene and have reached out to next of kin to notify them of this heartbreaking incident.”

In a series of tweets, Alaska governor Mike Dunleavy expressed his condolences for those who where killed in the collision.

The crash Friday happened more than seven years after another similarly tragic incident. In July 2013, two families from Greenville were killed near Soldotna after a small, single-engine plane crashed on takeoff at the local airport, claiming the lives of two families.

To support the loved ones of the victims of the Alaskan plane crash, go to their GoFundMe here.

To support the loved ones of the Hulsey, Dillard, and Wright families, go to their GoFundMe here.

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