Foundation urges passengers to raise concerns when flying in small planes

Two Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews rescue 11 people after a...
Two Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews rescue 11 people after a float plane crashed 39 miles south southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska, on Prince of Wales Island, July 10, 2018. All 11 people were taken to a staging area nearby for further transfer to Ketchikan. (From U.S. Coast Guard) (KTUU)
Published: Jul. 18, 2018 at 5:37 PM AKDT
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Passengers say they were uncomfortable with flying and conditions before a Taquan airplane crashed into mountains near Ketchikan. A report by the NTSB says that 10 passengers were injured and


The report says that the pilot became so disoriented that what he thought was open water was actually snow-covered mountains. By the time the pilot started his climb it was too late. The floats on the plane were sheared off as the plane crashed on Mount Jumbo.

But worry came even before the plane crashed, according to one passenger, flying in and out of clouds in foggy conditions until they saw the looming mountains ahead. One passenger did text another about their concerns while in the air, typing that they wanted the pilot to land on the water and wait for conditions to improve. There's no way of knowing if that would have been possible, but the report says some of the passengers didn't see the mountain until they were right on top of it.

The Medallion Foundation says passengers should share their concerns with pilots before the plane takes off. Executive Director Jerry Rock says that the foundation is currently receiving around 80 percent less funding from the FAA that it has in previous years. That money had traditionally been used for public safety awareness on passenger safety that could have instructed the passengers to discuss any potential concerns with their pilot before they flew out.

"We're doing absolutely little public outreach right now," Rock said. "We still have it with Princess and Holland America (cruise lines) because we have a program with them. But the public outreach as far as with us have stopped."

Taquan Air did respond to a Channel 2 News request with a brief email statement on the report.

“The preliminary report reiterates the need for the FAA to implement ways to provide effective terrain awareness and warning system protections while mitigating nuisance alerts for planes operating under visual flight rules. This issue is important to us, and we are dedicated to working with the FAA and other operators to address it," the statement from Brien Salazar, President and CEO of Taquan Air, said.

The pilot is not flying for the company at this time and Salazar adds that the company plans to perform its own internal investigation into what happened.