Second pilot saw plane dip low before crashing in Matanuska River, according to prelim report
Those who knew pilot Joshua Seagrave best are hoping for regulatory changes to prevent future tragedies
WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board offers a few new details surrounding a plane crash that killed one person last month.
On Nov. 10 pilot Joshua Seagrave was flying a Piper PA-18 along the Matanuska River when his plane collided with an unmarked tram cable that ran across the partially frozen water.
The report, released Thursday, indicated that Seagrave along with another pilot flying a Cessna 172 departed Wolf Lake Airport around 11 a.m. and were on their way back when the accident occurred just before 1 p.m.
It was also reported that the pilot of the Cessna saw Seagrave descend to a low altitude along the river prior to impact.
Seagrave was working as a mechanic’s helper at Danchini Aero LLC, an aviation maintenance hangar located on Wolf Lake airstrip and operated by Junior Daniel.
Daniel has had his own experience with the same cable while flying in the area.
“I never saw it until I was over top of it looking down it,” Daniel said. “It blended into the environment around it.”
The incident sparked controversy surrounding the legality of the cable, but the Department of Natural Resources says that it was unaware of any state statutes or regulations identifying aerial cable crossings that do not impede navigation through waterbodies as illegal.
While some have argued that Seagrave shouldn’t have been flying that low, his longtime friend Marty Rhett said there’s a lesson to be learned without pointing blame toward any one party.
“Aviation regulations are unfortunately due to incidents, and we learn the hard way,” Rhett said. “It’d be better just to move forward and make sure nothing happens again and not hurt anybody else. We’ve already, obviously, paid the price for this one so I personally don’t believe there’s any reason to continue to have somebody else pay anymore.”
Rhett met Seagrave in 2008 while going through the military freefall school and have remained friends since. He called Seagrave a high-energy, positive person who loved flying and Alaska.
“Always smiling and like always positive about everything,” Rhett said. “People remember him as this gentleman who served very professionally in his capacity in the military, and moved to Alaska because it is a truly free and beautiful place and it draws people like Josh.”
Seagrave was in the process of scheduling his test flight to get his private pilot license and was working toward getting his Airframe and Powerplant certification with Daniel. After the accident, Daniel said it took some time to be able to return to work in a hangar that now felt emptier.
“He’s the kind of people that you just want to be around always,” Daniel said. “I kind of feel cheated that I had to wait this long to meet Josh.”
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