Dillingham, AK Commuter Plane Crash, Oct 2001

Dillingham ALASKA plane crash 10-10-2001.jpg


Anchorage (AP) -- The PenAir plane that crashed Wednesday was the sixth fatal accident in 20 years for Alaska's largest commuter airline.
Despite that record, the 46-year-old airline has enjoyed a reputation as a safe carrier and a leader in aviation safety in the state, according to those within the aviation industry in Alaska.
Wednesday's crash killed nine, including the pilot. Witnesses say the single engine Cessna 208 Caravan took off in clear weather from Dillingham before crashing about two miles from the runway's end.
A total of seven people died in PenAir planes that went down in 1996, 1994, 1990 and 1985, according to the National Transportation Safety Board's online database, which dates back to 1983. Four more people died in 1981 when a medevac plane crashed after taking off in bad weather from King Cove.
Alaska State Troopers said the plane was bound for King Salmon when it crashed almost immediaely after taking off at 10 a.m.
The plane crashed into the tundra about two miles from the end of the runway, said Richard Harding, vice president of operations for PenAir. He said the plane had a pilot and nine passengers on board. Five were male and five were female.
Most of the passengers were from the King Salmon area. The plane also was scheduled to go on to Chignik.
"The crash was described to be high impact from low altitude," said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
Harding said there were no calls indicating the plane was in trouble. And he said there was no evidence the plane exploded.
"There was no explosion, no fire," he said.
The plane had no previous reports of trouble and the plane was fairly new, Harding said.
The National Transportation Safety Board has classified the crash as a major event and will send investigators from Anchorage and Seattle, Wilkinson said.
Temperatures were in the low to mid-30s, skies were clear and no wind was reported, Wilkinson said.
PenAir released the names of those killed in the carrier's crash at Dillingham Wednesday. They are:
GORDON MILLS, Dillingham, pilot.
ROSS GRUNERT, Chignik Lagoon.
CARLA GRUNERT, Chignik Lagoon.
LENA MATSON, Port Heiden.
RICHARD TAKAK, Chignik Lake.
ANDREW ABYO, Pilot Point.
In critical condition at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage was MARYANN CHRISTENSEN.

Daily Sitka Sentinel Alaksa 2001-10-10