UPDATE: NTSB speaks with pilot of downed Ketchikan plane
The pilot of the aircraft that crashed 2,000 feet up into the mountains told the National Transportation Safety Board Wednesday morning that he tried to avoid mountainous terrain, according to the Associated Press. All 11 people on board the plane survived.
Clint Johnson of the NTSB said an investigator spoke with the pilot Wednesday, during which time the pilot indicated that he left a lodge on Noyes Island just before 7:50 a.m. Tuesday with 10 passengers and light cargo bound for Ketchikan.
The pilot said that, as he was flying, he noticed rising terrain ahead of him and attempted to climb to avoid it but ultimately collided with it instead.
Johnson said the crash occurred around 8:35 a.m. Tuesday. He noted that it's far too early to draw any conclusions, but that he, the agency and rescue effort team members are all grateful for the outcome and that the crash wasn't worse.
NTSB officials plan to speak Wednesday morning with the pilot of the plane that crashed outside of Ketchikan, according to NTSB regional chief Clint Johnson.
"The first order of business is to talk to the pilot to determine what happened, and if there were any mechanical problems involved, " said Johnson, who added that the operator of the aircraft, Taquan Air, is cooperating with the investigation.
In a dispatch report from the Alaska State Troopers, the Taquan Air pilot of the flight was identified as Mike Hodgins, 72, of Ketchikan.
The Coast Guard says all 11 people on board the plane that crashed in Southeast Alaska today suffered only minor injuries, and are "otherwise in good condition."
Clint Johnson with the National Transportation Safety Board says the plane departed a fishing lodge at Steamboat Bay, on Noyes Island, at about 7:30 a.m., headed for Ketchikan. Alaska State Troopers have identified the plane as a Taquan Air flight.
The pilot of the Dehavilland DHC-3 plane was able to call the Coast Guard after the crash, notifying them of the location on Prince of Wales Island, northeast of Hydaburg.
Two Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters rescued the 11 people and took them to a staging area where Temsco Helicopters, Inc. transported them on to Ketchikan.
Johnson said preliminary information showed that some of the passengers may have had back injuries, leg injuries, possibly a broken ankle, and some bumps, cuts and bruises.
"I think we dodged a bullet in this case," Johnson told Channel 2, recalling a crash in the Ketchikan area in 2015 that
. "This one had a good outcome so far," he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard says it has taken all 11 people from the crash site to a staging area where they will be taken to Ketchikan. The people who need immediate medical attention will be taken by a different helicopter to Ketchikan Medical Center.
Authorities confirmed that the crash site has been located in terrain southwest of Ketchikan.
"They've found them," said Charly Hengen, public information officer for USCG, "And the next step is determining how to get them out of there, whether it will be by hoisting them up or landing."
Injuries were reported among the 11 occupants, but right now the extent of those injuries is not known. All occupants in the crash are expected to survive, Hengen said.
Emergency response crews mobilized early Tuesday morning for a report of a plane, holding 11 people on board, that crashed near Ketchikan.
"We haven't heard of any casualties, no reports of that," said Clint Johnston, chief of Alaska's NTSB office. "But it's an ongoing rescue mission at this point."
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the plane, a de Havilland DHC-3T Turbine Otter, went down 39 miles south southwest of Ketchikan near Hetta Inlet, 2,000 feet in elevation on Mount Jumbo.
The pilot and 11 passengers have not been identified by authorities yet. Johnston said the priority now is to reach the crash site and make sure they're safe.
Charly Hengen, public information officer for USCG, said that the pilot said there were no fatalities at the time the crash was called in, but that several injuries were reported. The extent of those injuries is not yet known.
Multiple agencies with air and land support attempted to reach the crash on Tuesday. Weather conditions so far reportedly prohibited reaching the site.
Hengen said that two helicopters were at the scene of the beacon, but due to visibility down to roughly a quarter mile, they had not yet located the plane.
"The visibility is poor right now, so that's causing some difficulty in locating the aircraft right now," Hengen said. "We're just working on finding those people."