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Cessna 208 Caravan from Flying Wild Alaska lost in fatal crash

Sad news of a tragic crash in Alaska last weekend of a Cessna 208 Caravan, featured in the popular show Flying Wild Alaska. This aircraft was operated by Hageland Aviation which is a part of Era Alaska, the airline featured in the show.

Ten souls were on on board the Caravan as it was described by surviving passengers to have “dropped out of the sky” near St. Mary’s, Alaska, and out of those, only six survived.  There were four casualties including the pilot and a 5 month old baby.  The pilot of the Caravan was 68 year old Terry Hanson, and he wasn’t part of the cast of Flying Wild Alaska where the plane was featured.

The flight was operated in conditions reported to be low ceilings and freezing rain. The temperature at the time of the crash was -8 Celsius, or about 18 degrees Fahrenheit.

The weather conditions were so bad at the time of the crash it took rescuers over an hour to find the wreckage. The emergency locator beacon (ELT) was triggered during impact and helped air ambulance locate the scene.  St. Mary’s is a remote village in Alaska inaccessible by road. It is about 760  km (470 miles) north west of Anchorage.

The airplane was one of the many aircraft featured in Flying Wild Alaska, a show that aired on Discovery channel from 2011 to 2012.  The crash occourred on in the evening Friday, November 29.  The flight was enroute from Bethel, through Mountain Village and scheduled to land in St. Marys, where it crashed 4 miles before the town.  The footage of the crash was made available by the State of Alaska and is shown here. The image is disturbing and shows a hard touch down which appears to be consistent with a nose-down attitude. No details are known.

Cessna 208 crash. Image provided by the State of Alaska and from NBC
Cessna 208 crash. Image provided by the State of Alaska and from NBC

Alaska is truly the land of flying and has the highest number of pilots per capita of any U.S. state and Canada, where one of 78 residents are pilots. Bush flying is very popular in Alaska and can also be very dangerous due to the remote terrain and often IFR flight is often not available due to the steep, mountainous regions. Alaska bush flying was explored in the show, Flying Wild Alaska.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), this accident pushes the number of deaths from aircraft crashes in Alaska up to 35 this year.

The NTSB is investigating the incident.