Friday, February 05, 2021

Cessna A185E Skywagon, N9725Z: Fatal accident occurred February 04, 2021 in Chitina, 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 
Copper Valley Air Service; Glennallen, Alaska
Cessna / Textron Aircraft; Wichita, Kansas

Copper Valley Air Service

Location: Chitina, AK 
Accident Number: ANC21FA015
Date & Time: February 4, 2021, 10:51 Local
Registration: N9725Z
Aircraft: Cessna 185 
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Scheduled

On February 4, 2021, about 1051 Alaska standard time, a Cessna A185E, N9725Z, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident about 14 miles northeast of Chitina, Alaska. The commercial pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 scheduled passenger flight.

According to the director of operations of Copper Valley Air Service, the flight was a twice weekly scheduled flight with a planned route from Gulkana (PAGK) to McCarthy (PAMX) to Dan Creek, returning to PAGK. The flight departed PAGK at about 1021 destined for PAMX.

A Garmin 696 GPSMAP was recovered from the accident site, and the damaged GPS unit was shipped to the NTSB’s vehicle recorder laboratory in Washington D.C. A preliminary review of GPS data logs recovered from the unit revealed a date and time that did not correspond to the accident flight. However, a data log was discovered that corresponded to the last flight and ended near the accident location. That data log revealed that after departure, the airplane climbed to a GPS altitude of about 7,500 ft and continued on a southeast track for about 10 minutes with a groundspeed between 120 and 130 knots (kts). The data showed that, about 2 minutes before the accident, the airplane began a gradual right turn to the south and began a descent, which averaged about 859 ft per minute. The last fully recorded inflight data point was at 1050:52, when the airplane was at a GPS altitude of 5,715 ft with a groundspeed of 154 kts and on a track of 282°. (See Figure 1 - Preliminary GPS flight track data.)

Figure 1 – Preliminary GPS flight track data.

The wreckage was found scattered over mountainous tree-covered terrain northeast of Chitina on the north side of the Chitina River valley. The main wreckage included both wheel penetration skis, engine, firewall, main fuselage, instrument panel, and left wing. The debris field was about 642 ft long by about 430 ft wide and contained the separated empennage, right outboard wing, and right inboard wing. (See Figure 2 - Debris field.)

Figure 2 - Debris field

The Airglass, Inc., model LW3600 skis remained attached to their respective attach points, and all ski arresting cables, bungees, and rigging were intact and attached to their respective attach points. No preimpact mechanical anomalies were noted with the skis or their rigging. (See Figure 3 – Main wreckage site) Flight control continuity could not be established due to numerous separations in the
flight control system. The wreckage has been recovered for further examination. 

Figure 3 - Main wreckage site note: both wheel penetration skis.

Two good samaritan pilots who responded to the accident site shortly after the accident reported a stratus layer of clouds in the vicinity of the accident that was moving eastward and dissipating with good visibility above and below the cloud layer with tops estimated at 4,000 to 5,000 ft above mean sea level (msl). Neither pilot reported turbulence, and one pilot who responded from PAGK reported no turbulence or significant winds aloft from the surface to 5,500 ft msl.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N9725Z
Model/Series: 185 E 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commuter air carrier (135), On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAGK, 1562 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 53 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: -22°C /-26°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.26 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Glennallen, AK (PAGK)
Destination: McCarthy, AK (PMXY)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 61.584722,-144.04583 

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

Christopher Michael Maize

Christopher Michael Maize

Christopher Michael Maize was born on March 11, 1975 in Mesa, Arizona and died unexpectedly on February 4, 2021 in a plane crash in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Chris was a gentle, humble man of few words, yet he impacted many people during his life.  He loved Jesus Christ with a fierce passion and sought to follow Him in everything he did. His single goal in life was to use his many talents of art, writing, music, leather working, engraving, gunsmithing, fly tying, and even knitting for God’s glory.

Chris graduated in 1993 from Camp Verde High School. He attended Yavapai College and studied Graphic Design.

Chris met his wife, Lari Gary in Phoenix and they were married in 2001. They were blessed with two daughters, Junior and Rusty, that were his absolute pride and joy.

Chris embodied the Alaskan spirit and one of his greatest passions, besides Jesus and his family, was flying. He was a conscientious and highly skilled pilot who was well respected in the Alaskan aviation community.

Chris flew the U.S. mail and passengers through the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park to remote McCarthy for Copper Valley Air Service.

He loved the peaceful solitude of flying in the winter surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the United States. He often commented how he had seen places only few people in the world had ever seen. He lived and died doing what he loved.

Christopher is survived by his wife, Lari; two daughters, Junior and Rusty; father, Ladd (Gwena); mother, Vickie (Kevin); brother, Sean; sisters, Allie and Kelly; nephews, Laddie and Sam; nieces, Giana and Gracie as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Bill and Betty Wright and Al and Jean Maize.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 2 pm at the Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts in Camp Verde, Arizona.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for the Christopher Maize Memorial Scholarship at, to continue Chris’ life work of inspiring and blessing others.

For such a quiet man, the impact of his life speaks volumes. We are all better for knowing him and he will be missed every single day. But we are assured that he is with his Savior, Jesus Christ and that gives us hope and peace in such a difficult time.

Chris recently wrote down his life mission statement which said, “I am not my own. I exist for God’s pleasure and in that I will find my own. The gifts He has given me, flight, art, storytelling, resources and discernment…and any other blessing He chooses to bestow, I will strive to use for his glory. I will ask myself ‘How can I use this gift to share the love of Jesus to someone in the world’…not someday in the distant future, not even tomorrow, but ‘How can I show the love of Jesus through this gift Today!’ Without Jesus, nothing else matters. But with Jesus, nothing else matters!”

Andrew Broders

Andrew Broders, a Washington state man who worked in Cordova as a fisherman, died in a February 4 plane crash along with pilot Christopher Maize. Nick Carr, Broders’s cousin, submitted the following letter.

Andy has been traveling to Cordova to fish since he was 4 years old. He comes from a family of fishermen, his father, his uncle, and several of his cousins all have owned and operated boats in multiple West Coast fisheries. Andy began following his father, Ray Broders, to Cordova for the fishing season since the age of 4. Andy was an adventurous soul and never backing down from an adventure or a challenge. Following in the footsteps of our grandfather, who joined the Navy as a machinist’s mate following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Andy joined the Navy immediately out of high school in 2003 and served as a machinist’s mate on our nation’s submarines. After his year enlistment and marrying his wife Jes, Andy moved back home to his ancestral home of Discovery Bay, Washington. After coming home, Andy fished the Copper River Salmon Season, the Puget Sound Dungeness Season, and started an oyster aquaculture business. He purchased a gold claim near Dan Creek, Alaska three summers ago and would travel there once or twice a year to pan for gold, not so much for the shiny rocks themselves, but for the adventure and story in the finding of shiny rocks. He was extremely excited to pan gold this year, to brave the elements alone with his waxed canvas tent. He was on his way to that claim when the Cessna 185 he was riding in appears to have broken apart mid-air.

Andy was kind, honest, and helpful. In my 35 years on this earth with him, I never heard him once say a mean or negative thing to anyone. If he thought that someone needed help, he would offer it. He was a jolly, cheerful soul, always quick with a laugh and smile.

He will be greatly missed by his friends and family, but most of all by his wife Jes and his father Ray.

Nick Carr
Newport, Rhode Island

Andrew Broders

Christopher Maize

Our friend, Chris Maize, was unexpectedly called to his heavenly home on February 4th flying in the Wrangell Mountains. Chris is survived by his loving wife, Lari, and two daughters, Junior and Rusty.  Chris was a gentle, kind and humble man who was a diligent and careful pilot who loved sharing Alaska and the National Park with visitors.   In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made here. Additional funds will go to a scholarship in Chris' name.  We are very appreciative of the support from our friends, family, and community during these difficult times.

A pilot from Anchorage and Glennallen and a passenger from out of state were the two people killed in a plane crash last week in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska State Troopers said Thursday.

The Cessna 185 may have broken up in midair near Chitina on Feb. 4, according to a federal investigators. Pilot Christopher Maize, 45, and 36-year-old passenger Andrew Broders of Washington both died in the crash.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center was notified about the crash just before noon when an emergency locator transmitter was activated from the Copper Valley Air Service plane. The crash was in a remote, mountainous area roughly 13 miles northeast of Chitina and in a wooded section of a gradual slope, troopers wrote in an online report.

A crew from the rescue center flew to the area on the day of the crash and confirmed no one had survived. Officials returned to the site the next day but did not recover the bodies until Saturday, troopers said. An NTSB investigator was expected to reach the scene Tuesday and help with wreckage recovery, the organization said.

The plane, which also carried U.S. mail, was flying from Gulkana to McCarthy when it crashed.

Rescuers described the debris as being in two distinct locations, which could indicate the airplane may have broken apart in flight, said Clint Johnson, Alaska chief for the National Transportation Safety Board. Midair breakups are uncommon and often involve bad weather. Johnson said investigators are looking into the weather, but that it did not appear to be an immediate factor.

In an online fundraiser, Maize was described by friends as “a gentle, kind and humble man who was a diligent and careful pilot who loved sharing Alaska and the National Park with visitors.”

The Copper Valley Air Service is family owned and based at Gulkana Airport in Glennallen, according to the company website. The company specializes in flightseeing tours, air taxi and charter services, backcountry or hunting drop offs in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Copper River Basin and McCarthy to Kennicott.

Alaska State Troopers have identified two people killed in last week's crash of a small plane in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Pilot Christopher Maize, 45, of Anchorage and Glennallen and 36-year-old Andrew Broders of Washington state died in the Feb. 4 crash, authorities said.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center was notified just when an emergency locator transmitter was activated in the Cessna A185E Skywagon.

The aircraft, which also carried U.S. mail, was flying from Gulkana to McCarthy. The plane fell in a remote, forested area about 13 miles (21 kilometers) northeast of Chitina.

Rescue center personnel flew to the area on the day of the crash and confirmed no one survived.

In an online fundraiser, Maize was described by friends as “a gentle, kind and humble man who was a diligent and careful pilot who loved sharing Alaska and the National Park with visitors.”

The National Transportation Safety Board said the Cessna A185E Skywagon was on a flight operated by Copper Valley Air Service.

Clint Johnson, the agency's Alaska chief, said early findings indicate the plane may have broken up during flight.

The main fuselage landed in one location and the tail and other debris were found about 200 yards (183 meters) away, Johnson said.

Midair breakups are unusual and often involve flights in bad weather. Investigators are considering the weather at the time of the crash, which was cold but did not immediately appear to be a factor, Johnson said.

A structural engineer and an Alaska-based investigator were expected to travel to the site in Wrangell-St. Elias, the largest U.S. national park, spanning more than 20,300 square miles (52,577 square kilometers).

The wreckage will be recovered for examination, Johnson said.

Copper Valley Air Service is a family-owned business specializing in sightseeing flights, air taxi and charter services and backcountry or hunting transport, the company’s website said.

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