Recovery efforts for plane crash near Cape Yakataga called off; preliminary NTSB report released
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Recovery efforts for a plane that crashed in a remote, mountainous region near Cape Yakataga last month have been called off, according to a news release from the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve.
On Aug. 27 around 10 a.m., a Beech B36TC crashed in the mountains near Mount Leeper at an elevation of 4,787 feet, a newly-released National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report said.
The pilot, 59-year-old Clayton McMartin, and the only passenger on board, 58-year-old Melissa McMartin, both of Roanoke, Texas, were killed in the crash.
The park said that based on reconnaissance on Sept. 5, the plane crashed in “a highly crevassed area on the Yahtse Glacier that continually accumulates snow, making the wreckage permanently inaccessible.”
The plane left Snowshoe Lake Airport in Glennallen at 8:50 a.m., headed to Ketchikan. During the flight, an Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center controller had intermittent communication with the pilot between about 9:15 a.m. and 9:53 a.m.
During the communication, the controller asked the pilot if he could climb higher and the pilot confirmed he would climb to 13,500 feet. The pilot then said his requested final altitude was 13,000 feet and the controller told him he would need to climb higher, to 14,000 feet, which the pilot confirmed he would do.
Due to high terrain, communication was impacted. The last time the pilot contacted the controller was at 9:53 a.m., requesting a climb to 15,000 feet, which the controller approved.
At 9:58 a.m., the controller stated, “All other aircraft standby real quick, N6709Q, Anchorage center, you up? N6709Q, I see you rapidly descending at 11,000,” according to the report.
Flight data showed the plane reached a maximum altitude of 14,950 feet and turned left into a rapid descent. The last radar data of the flight showed the plane near the eventual crash site at an altitude of 8,875 feet.
Weather data collected showed low clouds that would obscure higher terrain in the area at the time of the crash, limiting visibility to less than 3 miles, the report said.
The full report can be read below.
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