Witness recounts plane crash near Birchwood Airport

Published: Aug. 13, 2016 at 11:38 PM AKDT
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A plane crash that happened just outside of the Birchwood Airport Saturday killed one, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Witnesses report hearing two loud pops prior to impact,” said Mike Hodges, NTSB Aviation Accident Investigator. “There was one occupant on board who sustained fatal injuries.”

Scotty Smith was at his family's hangar at the Birchwood Airport shortly before the plane took off. Smith, a photojournalist at Channel 2, happened to be in the area on his day off.

"I actually heard the plane taking off, and the engine was sounding pretty rough,” Smith said. “It was sputtering, and all of sudden there was a pop, and the plane went silent.”

Immediately, Smith said, he saw a pillar of smoke. He then ran over to the plane.

“It took me about thirty seconds to get over to it, and it was already completely engulfed in flames," he said.

According to Smith, when he got to the plane, three other people were already calling 911 and searching for a fire extinguisher.

“I wish I could have done more, and I know everyone out there feels the same,” Smith said.

NTSB investigators said there was little left of the plane itself due to the fire. Their plan is to have preliminary reports out in 5 to 10 days.