Thursday, December 09, 2021

Douglas R4D-8 Super DC-3, N28TN: Incident occurred December 08, 2021 at Merrill Field Airport (PAMR), Anchorage, Alaska

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

Aircraft departed, experienced engine issues and made an emergency landing with the gear up.


TransNorthern Aviation 

Date: 08-DEC-21
Time: 19:32:00Z
Regis#: N28TN
Aircraft Make: DOUGLAS
Aircraft Model: R4D
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: CARGO
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)

 ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A TransNorthern Aviation cargo flight made an emergency landing Wednesday morning at Merrill Field in Anchorage after experiencing a loss of engine power.

According to Alaska Chief of the National Transportation and Safety Board Clint Johnson, no one was injured in the emergency landing of the Douglas DC-3. The plane came down while landing gear was still up on runway 7 of the downtown airport.

“NTSB is investigating at this point right now,” Johnson said. “My understanding is the airplane landed ‘gear up’ after declaring an emergency.”

Johnson said the plane took off from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and was headed to Kodiak Airport. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the plane is a 1952 manufacturer year aircraft that is powered by turbo propellers.

“They departed from Anchorage International, originally headed to Kodiak, had a loss of engine power very shortly after takeoff, made the emergency landing at Merrill,” Johnson said. “Two pilots on board, no injuries.”

Edward Munson, who witnessed the landing at Merrill Field, said that in his many years working at the airport, he’s never seen a landing quite like the one on Wednesday morning.

“I’ve never really seen this before here,” he said. “We don’t get too many DC-3′s coming through Merrill Field. And, especially not in emergency situations.”

Munson recorded a video along runway 7, where the plane finally landed.

“I heard it off in the distance, but I couldn’t see it,” he said, “because it was flying super low. I didn’t see it until it was pretty much right on runway 7 here. And I noticed it was only running on one engine, it’s landing gear was up, and he just barely made the runway – kind of hit the snow bank and kind of hurtled to a stop on the runway.”

The runway at Merrill Field where the plane landed was initially closed, but Mayor Dave Bronson’s office said in a press release that it reopened by shortly after 4:45 p.m.


  1. I would say they barely made to the runway. impressive!

    1. Preserved airspeed by not extending the landing gear. Would be interesting to see a pilot interview, so many unsung heroes doing essential work for communities in Alaska.

      Pilot might clarify what the reporter meant by "powered by turbo propellers", since the images show radial engines and not the Basler turboprop conversion.

    2. Registration mistakenly shows engine as turbo prop. You can see that N28TN's registration was issued the same day as PT6 equipped Beech 99 N39TN, another of the owner's aircraft. Data entry mistake.

    3. Flight track shows the turn flown to get aligned at final:

    4. Photos of the lifting to get the gear down afterwards:

    5. LiveAtc has clear audio of the pilot and controller.

      Starting at approximately 26:30, identifies as 28TN while reporting engine lost, identifies as Transnorthern 123 for other calls.

      Originally intended to return to PANC, ended up declaring mayday and landing at Merrill, PANC tower controller replied that Merrill had the traffic cleared for them.

  2. Right propeller appears to be either windmilling or the engine had partial power. If he couldn't feather the prop that sure would have made this more difficult.

    1. At the end of the video, it appears that the right propellers are feathered but there also seems to be some rotational damage to them.

    2. The prop is moving at the 16 second mark of another video posted 11 hours earlier with additional content. The "M" video left some shaky flight content out.

      Pause the video linked below at 00:16 and advance by frames and see the prop changing position. Strobe effects from frame rate and shaky image makes it impossible to tell the speed of rotation, but rotation is happening in flight. Odd to see it feathered afterwards on the ground but turning in flight.

      Earlier posted video with more content, cued to 00:16 mark:

    3. The actual quote is, "According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the plane is a 1952 manufacturer year aircraft that is powered by turbo propellers." The pilot didn't say that to the Reporter. He got that from the FAA spokesman or the FAA web site or some other source.

  3. Runway 7/25
    Dimensions: 4000 x 100 ft. / 1219 x 30 m

  4. Video at the 26 second mark he had about 5 feet to clear that aircraft parked next to the end of the runway. Holy cow they had zero altitude to play with left. Not lowering the gear saved the aircraft, possible ground object damage, and even injury/death. I mean they were out of airspeed AND altitude at the very last moment. Straight out of an action movie.

    1. Gave up some altitude turning toward the dead engine as they got to the runway, but didn't overbank and crash while getting lined up.