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NTSB releases preliminary report on the deadly Eagle River plane crash

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 1:13 PM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2021 at 9:39 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The National Transportation Safety Board has released the preliminary report on the Eagle River plane crash from late July that took the lives of two people.

“We’ve completed the on-scene part of the investigation, completed the initial wreckage investigation after recovery,” said Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB’s Alaska regional office.

According to the report, 23-year-old Dakota Bauder of Anchorage and 27-year-old McKenna Vierra of Hawaii were on a “discovery flight” from Anchorage to Girdwood on July 26. The flight instructor and private pilot flew out of Merrill Field Airport just after noon and proceeded northbound near Palmer before turning toward Knik Glacier.

The duo was expected to arrive in Girdwood around 2 p.m.

When they didn’t show up a family member “referenced a tracking application which showed the airplane had stopped moving in the area of the Eagle River Valley,” according to the NTSB. The family member then contacted authorities and a search began.

Later that day the wreckage of the plane was found in a steep, mountainous area in the valley.

The plane had an emergency locator transmitter onboard that helps make it easier to find should it crash. It’s designed to activate upon impact.

”Unfortunately that did not go off,” Johnson said. “So, that’s an aspect we’re going to be looking at.”

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The NTSB report said the emergency locator transmitter will be brought in for “further testing.”

An NTSB post-accident examination revealed that all major components remained attached at their respective attach points.” the NTSB stated. “Flight control continuity was established from all control surfaces to the cockpit. Internal engine continuity was confirmed through rotation of the propeller.”

Johnson also said he and investigators will try to find out who had control of the plane when it crashed.

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