Preliminary reports from the National
Transportation Safety Board regarding two fatal crashes of
flightseeing planes this summer near Ketchikan, Alaska, indicate
that there were adverse weather conditions at the time of both of
On July 24, four
Princess Cruises passengers and a pilot were killed when a
single-engine plane operated by Taquan Air crashed during a
sightseeing tour of the Misty Fjords National Monument.
On Aug. 16, five
passengers on a Holland America Line cruise were killed when a
single-engine plane operated by Seawind Aviation collided with
tree-covered terrain while on a bear-viewing excursion in Traitor's
The pilot and three
passengers survived that accident with serious injuries.
In the preliminary
NTSB report on the Taquan Air accident, a pilot on the same route
but about five minutes behind the plane that crashed said he
encountered "a wall of weather" that blocked his intended flight
There were low
clouds, rain and fog, according to the report.
The pilot said he
turned around and took an alternate route to complete his tour and
return to Ketchikan.
At least one
survivor from the Seawind Aviation accident was able to give the
NTSB clues about the events leading up to the crash.
A survivor told an
Alaska state trooper during a hospital emergency room interview
after the accident that there were "strong and gusty winds prior to
beginning the takeoff run" and that the airplane began its takeoff
directly into the strong winds.
Shortly after the
plane was airborne, it made a steep turn to the left before
abruptly descending, said the passenger.
The report also
said that other pilots flying in the area at the time of the
accident reported strong southeasterly winds and significant
contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].