ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two planes flying from separate southwest Alaska villages struck each other in midair Friday afternoon, say the National Transportation Safety Board and Alaska State Troopers. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration says one pilot landed his aircraft on tundra and the other plane crashed and burned.
Investigators believe the two planes carried only one pilot each and no passengers.
The incident was reported to troopers as a midair collision north of the village of Nightmute about 4 p.m., said troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. Troopers and medics responded in a helicopter from Bethel, about 100 miles east of the Nelson Island village, she said.
“We’re on our way to see what we’re up against,” Peters said as the helicopter flew toward the crash site. The planes were on the ground about 10 miles north of Nightmute, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
One is a Cessna 207 operated by rural freight carrier Ryan Air, said the company’s president, Wilfred Ryan. The Ryan Air pilot — the only person onboard — landed, got out and was talking to other pilots flying over the area, Ryan said.
“The report we had was that he was safe and walking around,” Ryan said.
The other plane — a Cessna 208 Caravan operated by air taxi and cargo operator Grant Aviation — was reportedly on the ground in flames, NTSB investigator Clint Johnson said. Grant Aviation reported the Caravan’s pilot was alone on the plane, Johnson said. The pilot’s fate is unknown, saytroopers, the NTSB and the FAA.
The Ryan Air plane took off from Tununuk and headed to Bethel, Johnson said.
The Grant Aviation plane departed from Toksook Bay, also flying toward Bethel, the investigator said.
Another second Ryan Air pilot reported the incident to the company, which immediately notified federal and state authorities, Ryan said.
The National Weather Service reported overcast skies with cloud ceilings about 1,000 feet and no fog or rain in the area at the time of the collision.
The cause of the collision remained unknown late Friday, according to troopers and the NTSB.
Johnson said he would be heading to the crash site early Saturday to investigate further.
The incident north of Nightmute appears to be the third midair collision in Alaska skies this summer.