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Sightseeing plane missing in Alaska.


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We stopped taking small plane or helicopter tours several years ago. The views they provide are wonderful in Alaska and Hawaii and many other places, but there's just too much risk.

 

This is heart breaking news. Condolences to friends and families. It's awful.

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We used Seawind Aviation (not the company in this crash) ten years ago on a cruise, for a flight to Misty Fiords.  We had perfect weather and it was one of our most memorable shore excursions ever.

 

I have no idea about the cause of this crash, but too often the cause of flightseeing crashes are the pilots still flying in very marginal VMC (visual meteorological conditions) weather.  All you need to do is fly into a cloud when you are near a mountain or lose spatial orientation and bang, you are dead.  I will continue to take flightseeing flights in places in the world where it is really the best way to see the sights.  But I would also not get in that plane/helicopter if I am not convinced we really will have VMC for the entire flight.  I would rather lose my money than take a chance on a pilot I do not know.

 

We will see what the NTSB investigation shows as the cause of this crash.

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Posted (edited)

While tragic the statistics for risk on flight seeing flights are really not bad.  Some reports put it at a similar level to driving.

 

To put it in perspective more cruise passengers have died in excursion bus accidents in the last 15 years than in Alaska flight seeing crashes during the same time. 12 in Mexico in 2017, 12 in Chile in 2006, 3 in 2019 in Belize, etc.

Edited by nocl
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58 minutes ago, Torquer said:

We used Seawind Aviation (not the company in this crash) ten years ago on a cruise, for a flight to Misty Fiords.  We had perfect weather and it was one of our most memorable shore excursions ever.

 

I have no idea about the cause of this crash, but too often the cause of flightseeing crashes are the pilots still flying in very marginal VMC (visual meteorological conditions) weather.  All you need to do is fly into a cloud when you are near a mountain or lose spatial orientation and bang, you are dead.  I will continue to take flightseeing flights in places in the world where it is really the best way to see the sights.  But I would also not get in that plane/helicopter if I am not convinced we really will have VMC for the entire flight.  I would rather lose my money than take a chance on a pilot I do not know.

 

We will see what the NTSB investigation shows as the cause of this crash.

In a news article, it stated that the cloud ceiling was 900ft, light mist and rain, visibility was two miles, and winds were 8mph.  How would you rate those conditions?

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39 minutes ago, nocl said:

While tragic the statistics for risk on flight seeing flights are really not bad.  Some reports put it at a similar level to driving.

 

To put it in perspective more cruise passengers have died in excursion bus accidents in the last 15 years than in Alaska flight seeing crashes during the same time. 12 in Mexico in 2017, 12 in Chile in 2006, 3 in 2019 in Belize, etc.

That being said, each of us has his or her own risk assessment.

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So sad! As an Alaskan, I hear of too many crashes like this. I know that many flightseeing excursions are memorable and successful, but you just couldn’t pay me to go up in a small plane or helicopter in Alaska. The terrain is so rugged, and the weather is so unpredictable. It seems like there’s a major flightseeing excursion crash in our state once every 2 years or so. 

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46 minutes ago, nocl said:

While tragic the statistics for risk on flight seeing flights are really not bad.  Some reports put it at a similar level to driving.

 

To put it in perspective more cruise passengers have died in excursion bus accidents in the last 15 years than in Alaska flight seeing crashes during the same time. 12 in Mexico in 2017, 12 in Chile in 2006, 3 in 2019 in Belize, etc.

 

I don't understand that statistic.  Many more people have been on buses than in the planes, right? 

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1 hour ago, nocl said:

While tragic the statistics for risk on flight seeing flights are really not bad.  Some reports put it at a similar level to driving.

 

To put it in perspective more cruise passengers have died in excursion bus accidents in the last 15 years than in Alaska flight seeing crashes during the same time. 12 in Mexico in 2017, 12 in Chile in 2006, 3 in 2019 in Belize, etc.

If I recall nine people were killed in June 2017 when a float plane crashed outside Ketchikan into a mountain. The people were off the Westerdam on a HAL excursion. We were on the next sailing out of Seattle and all float plane excursions were stopped.

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10 minutes ago, AncientWanderer said:

 

 

 

 

I don't understand that statistic.  Many more people have been on buses than in the planes, right? 

More have.  I am just pointing out for those that are having the knee jerk reaction that all flightseeing should be stopped, that other perceived safe cruise related activities also have risk.  While flight seeing accidents are high visibility events, when one looks at the number of flight seeing flights that take place in Alaska, the number of accidents is quite low.  Just spend some time at the hotel at the end of the sea plane lake in Anchorage.  It is a steady stream of take offs and landings from the flight seeing companies based there.

 

Small plane safety in Alaska is about 13.59 mishaps per 100,000 hours.   That number is about twice the over all US small plane rates of 5.85. Note this is mishaps of all kinds, not all fatal accidents.

 

Of course in Alaska many of those mishaps are with privately owned air craft, not the flight seeing tour flights. The major reason for the difference compared to the US over all is due to they type flying to remote communities, rugged air fields or lakes, with  weather conditions that can change quickly.

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5 minutes ago, RedneckBob said:

If I recall nine people were killed in June 2017 when a float plane crashed outside Ketchikan into a mountain. The people were off the Westerdam on a HAL excursion. We were on the next sailing out of Seattle and all float plane excursions were stopped.

In June 2017 there was a accident while landing at Big Goat Lake, but all of the passengers swam to shore (no serious injuries).  

 

Here is a list of all accidents to/from Ketchikan since 

 

 

What follows is a list of known crashes departing from or bound for Ketchikan, gathered from NTSB accident records.

May 13, 2019:

Planes operated by Taquan Air and Mountain Air Services collide mid-air

, causing fatalities and serious injuries. The investigation is underway.

July 10, 2018:

A Taquan Air De Havilland DHC-3

struck mountainous terrain, seriously injuring six passengers

. Four passengers experienced minor injuries, the pilot was uninjured. The pilot had turned off the Terrain Awareness and Warning System.

June 25, 2015:

A De Havilland DHC-3 operated by Promech Air, Inc., collided with mountainous terrain, killing eight passengers and the pilot.

The NTSB determined probable cause

as "(1) the pilot's decision to continue visual flight into an area of instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in his geographic disorientation and controlled flight into terrain; and (2) Promech's company culture, which tacitly endorsed flying in hazardous weather and failed to manage the risks associated with the competitive pressures affecting Ketchikan-area air tour operators; its lack of a formal safety program; and its inadequate operational control of flight releases."

July 24, 2013:

An engine on a DeHavilland Beaver DHC-2 operated by Promech Air LLC lost power, causing a crash landing, seriously injuring three people. The NTSB determined an equipment problem -- the failure of the linkrod or its bushing -- caused the crash.

July 2, 2012:

A De Havilland Beaver DHC-2 operated by S&S Aircraft Leasing, Inc. experienced difficulty on takeoff, causing a wing to strike the water. The NTSB determined probable cause to be "the pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during a step turn on floats."

July 24, 2007:

A De Havilland DHC-2 operated by Venture Travel LLC (which owns Taquan Air) crashed into steep, tree-covered terrain, killing four passengers and the pilot. The NTSB determined probable cause to be "The pilot's decision to continue under visual flight rules into an area of instrument metrological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inadequate weather evaluation, and the FAA's inadequate surveillance of the commercial air tour operator."

July 28, 2005:

A De Havilland DHC-3 operated by Promech Inc.experienced a flash fire in the cockpit, causing an emergency landing. The pilot suffered burns, 10 passengers were uninjured. The NTSB's probable cause finding was "an electrical arc on the exterior of a fuel pressure line that initiated a fuel leak and fire during cruise flight, which resulted in serious injuries to the pilot as he performed an emergency landing on the water. A factor contributing to the accident was an inadequate annual inspection of the airplane by company maintenance personnel."

August 19, 2002:

Two airplanes operated by ProMech, Inc., collided in mid-air when a plane gaining altitude struck a plane that had established a level path. None of the passengers or pilots were injured. The NTSB found probable cause to be "the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate visual outlook during cruise climb, which resulted in a midair collision between the two airplanes."

June 19, 2002:

An idling plane hit another plane at the dock after a dockhand prematurely let go of a mooring rope. The NTSB found probable cause to be "The failure of a ground handler to follow company procedures/directives, and his premature release of a mooring line. Factors associated with the accident were the congested operations area, and the operator's failure to provide adequate safe zones for the airplanes."

Dec. 12, 1996:

A Taquan Air De Havilland DHC-2 crashed into the water, killing the pilot. The NTSB determined "the pilot's inadequate compensation for wind conditions, and failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which resulted in an inadvertent stall and collision with terrain (water). A factor associated with the accident was the gusty wind condition."

June 8, 1994:

The wing of a Taquan Air Cessna 185 struck rough water in Kassan Bay. The NTSB determined probable cause as "the pilot's inadequate compensation for the wind."

June 4, 1992:

Rivets failed on a Taquan Air De Havilland DHC-3, causing the airplane's control yoke to vibrate and the nose to pitch down.

 

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24 minutes ago, nocl said:

In June 2017 there was a accident while landing at Big Goat Lake, but all of the passengers swam to shore (no serious injuries).  

 

Here is a list of all accidents to/from Ketchikan since 

 

 

 

Hmmm, Taquan and ProMech show up prominently and often in your list. Are there any other major operators in the Ketchikan area? Seems like they may be the safer choice.

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10 minutes ago, vicd1969 said:

Hmmm, Taquan and ProMech show up prominently and often in your list. Are there any other major operators in the Ketchikan area? Seems like they may be the safer choice.

Island Wings. Michele won't fly if there's any hint of a weather issue. It took us three visits before we got to fly with her, but it was worth it!

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42 minutes ago, nocl said:

In June 2017 there was a accident while landing at Big Goat Lake, but all of the passengers swam to shore (no serious injuries).  

 

Here is a list of all accidents to/from Ketchikan since 

 

 

What follows is a list of known crashes departing from or bound for Ketchikan, gathered from NTSB accident records.

May 13, 2019:

Planes operated by Taquan Air and Mountain Air Services collide mid-air

, causing fatalities and serious injuries. The investigation is underway.

July 10, 2018:

A Taquan Air De Havilland DHC-3

struck mountainous terrain, seriously injuring six passengers

. Four passengers experienced minor injuries, the pilot was uninjured. The pilot had turned off the Terrain Awareness and Warning System.

June 25, 2015:

A De Havilland DHC-3 operated by Promech Air, Inc., collided with mountainous terrain, killing eight passengers and the pilot.

The NTSB determined probable cause

as "(1) the pilot's decision to continue visual flight into an area of instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in his geographic disorientation and controlled flight into terrain; and (2) Promech's company culture, which tacitly endorsed flying in hazardous weather and failed to manage the risks associated with the competitive pressures affecting Ketchikan-area air tour operators; its lack of a formal safety program; and its inadequate operational control of flight releases."

July 24, 2013:

An engine on a DeHavilland Beaver DHC-2 operated by Promech Air LLC lost power, causing a crash landing, seriously injuring three people. The NTSB determined an equipment problem -- the failure of the linkrod or its bushing -- caused the crash.

July 2, 2012:

A De Havilland Beaver DHC-2 operated by S&S Aircraft Leasing, Inc. experienced difficulty on takeoff, causing a wing to strike the water. The NTSB determined probable cause to be "the pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during a step turn on floats."

July 24, 2007:

A De Havilland DHC-2 operated by Venture Travel LLC (which owns Taquan Air) crashed into steep, tree-covered terrain, killing four passengers and the pilot. The NTSB determined probable cause to be "The pilot's decision to continue under visual flight rules into an area of instrument metrological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inadequate weather evaluation, and the FAA's inadequate surveillance of the commercial air tour operator."

July 28, 2005:

A De Havilland DHC-3 operated by Promech Inc.experienced a flash fire in the cockpit, causing an emergency landing. The pilot suffered burns, 10 passengers were uninjured. The NTSB's probable cause finding was "an electrical arc on the exterior of a fuel pressure line that initiated a fuel leak and fire during cruise flight, which resulted in serious injuries to the pilot as he performed an emergency landing on the water. A factor contributing to the accident was an inadequate annual inspection of the airplane by company maintenance personnel."

August 19, 2002:

Two airplanes operated by ProMech, Inc., collided in mid-air when a plane gaining altitude struck a plane that had established a level path. None of the passengers or pilots were injured. The NTSB found probable cause to be "the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate visual outlook during cruise climb, which resulted in a midair collision between the two airplanes."

June 19, 2002:

An idling plane hit another plane at the dock after a dockhand prematurely let go of a mooring rope. The NTSB found probable cause to be "The failure of a ground handler to follow company procedures/directives, and his premature release of a mooring line. Factors associated with the accident were the congested operations area, and the operator's failure to provide adequate safe zones for the airplanes."

Dec. 12, 1996:

A Taquan Air De Havilland DHC-2 crashed into the water, killing the pilot. The NTSB determined "the pilot's inadequate compensation for wind conditions, and failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which resulted in an inadvertent stall and collision with terrain (water). A factor associated with the accident was the gusty wind condition."

June 8, 1994:

The wing of a Taquan Air Cessna 185 struck rough water in Kassan Bay. The NTSB determined probable cause as "the pilot's inadequate compensation for the wind."

June 4, 1992:

Rivets failed on a Taquan Air De Havilland DHC-3, causing the airplane's control yoke to vibrate and the nose to pitch down.

 

Correction. It was the June 25, 2015 crash. Passengers were on off the Westerdam on a HAL excursion and the crash occurred at Lake Ella. 

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41 minutes ago, vicd1969 said:

Hmmm, Taquan and ProMech show up prominently and often in your list. Are there any other major operators in the Ketchikan area? Seems like they may be the safer choice.

Taquan bought ProMech several years ago.

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35 minutes ago, NextOne said:

Island Wings. Michele won't fly if there's any hint of a weather issue. It took us three visits before we got to fly with her, but it was worth it!

 I was just about to pipe in Edi. You beat me to it. 

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A little aside about the plane The DeHavilland Beaver was manufactured (about 1000 total) from 1947 to 1967. Used mainly as a bush plane, eqipped with std wheels, retractible skis or floats. The US military bought about 100, mostly army L-20, primary use air evacuation. The Air Force had 10, which were deployed to the US radar sites in Canada, known as the Pinetree Line, primarily for use in emergency air evacuation. Most of the sites, ours included, were not accessible by road. My wife was evacuated to a hospital in March 1957 on one of these planes. So they have been around for a long time....

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, VintageGeo said:

If anyone knows, can the pilot activate the alert or is it solely automatic?

If the plane was having an in-flight difficulties, the pilot can declare an emergency with ATC and set his transponder to a specific code so radar will track them.  If a crash happens, the Emergency Location Transmitter will activate automatically.  Very sad news.  

Edited by crusinbanjo
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   There is a cruise blogger,Pescado Amarillo (Yellow Fish Cruises) on this cruise. 

Her name is Jeanie and her DH goes by G.

Followers of her blog and postings on the Princess board are concerned  because she has not posted recently. She has been having issues with WiFi, so that may be the reason for the lack of her posts.

   However, the news of the sightseeing plane crash has caused some concern.

If you know this couple, could you please convey her followers’ concern for their safety ?

   According to one of her latest posts, her DH recently attended the. Veterans and First Responders get together on the ship,probably on the sea day. Maybe someone attending that get together would recognize G and convey posters’ 

concern to him.

     Very sad for the loved ones of those that perished in the crash. 

Hoping the passengers on the ship remain healthy and safe.

 

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29 minutes ago, MJSailors said:

   There is a cruise blogger,Pescado Amarillo (Yellow Fish Cruises) on this cruise. 

Her name is Jeanie and her DH goes by G.

Followers of her blog and postings on the Princess board are concerned  because she has not posted recently. She has been having issues with WiFi, so that may be the reason for the lack of her posts.

 

I have been following Pescado Amarillo's blog (her name is Jeannie and they live in the Denver area).  I am also very concerned as her last post was two days ago.  She had stated that she would post while in port where she could use WiFi and Ketchikan should have had plenty of places to post from.  In addition the ship was held in port for longer than planned on account of the tragedy so I hope and pray that her and her husband are both ok.  For those interested here is her blog, hope she posts soon.

 

http://pescadoamarillo.blogspot.com/2021/08/

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32 minutes ago, MJSailors said:

   There is a cruise blogger,Pescado Amarillo (Yellow Fish Cruises) on this cruise. 

Her name is Jeanie and her DH goes by G.

Followers of her blog and postings on the Princess board are concerned  because she has not posted recently. She has been having issues with WiFi, so that may be the reason for the lack of her posts.

   However, the news of the sightseeing plane crash has caused some concern.

If you know this couple, could you please convey her followers’ concern for their safety ?

   According to one of her latest posts, her DH recently attended the. Veterans and First Responders get together on the ship,probably on the sea day. Maybe someone attending that get together would recognize G and convey posters’ 

concern to him.

     Very sad for the loved ones of those that perished in the crash. 

Hoping the passengers on the ship remain healthy and safe.

 

Yes!  I have been checking her blog every few hours for any update.  I hope she posts soon to ease our concern. 

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1 hour ago, crusinbanjo said:

If the plane was having an in-flight difficulties, the pilot can declare an emergency with ATC and set his transponder to a specific code so radar will track them.  If a crash happens, the Emergency Location Transmitter will activate automatically.  Very sad news.  

Thank you. At the time I was reaching for a scenario that might have had the pilot activating the signal after an issue caused him to set the plane down on a lake, and the searchers finding them all safe in the fog. Wish I had been right.

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