UPDATE: Pilot killed in Nome-area plane crash, troopers say
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report for the fatal crash involving the downed Cessna 172K near Nome.
On March 5 at 5:10 p.m., the aircraft took off from Wasilla and was expected to land at Nome City Field by 9:30 p.m., says the report. NTSB confirms that the pilot was the sole occupant of the plane as he was taking a personal flight to visit a friend.
By 9:41 p.m., the Cessna 172K reached Nome and the pilot and his friend exchanged a series of text messages, says NTSB.
According to the report, the friend texted the pilot saying that the weather was "Ten miles 600 over." And the pilot texted back, "Ok, I think I can sneak in."
According to the NTSB's report, "No flight plan was filed... [and] the pilot held a current FAA Third Class Medical Certificate that stated the restriction 'not valid for night flying or by color signal control.'" Additionally, during winter, the Nome City Field lacks lighting and is not plowed, according to the FAA's Chart Supplement Alaska - a publication on flight information and special notices.
The Cessna 172K approached runway 21 a total of four times before the pilot decided he could not land, according to the plane's Garmin GPSMAP 296 device, which was recovered by the NTSB IIC.
By 10:14 p.m., the pilot texted his friend, "Not happening."
At 5:30 a.m. on Monday, the pilot's fiancée reported the overdue aircraft to officials. And approximately five hours later, Nome Search and Rescue crew located the airplane wreckage near Hastings Creek.
The Garmin GPS' last data point indicates that at 10:23 p.m. on Sunday, the Cessna 172K's ground-speed was at 42 mph, was positioned at an altitude of 373 feet, had flown 596 statute miles and had a total time of 5.3 hours.
Prior to departure, the pilot's fiancée told NTSB that she witnessed the pilot fueling the airplane and two fuel containers - totaling 35.3 gallons. She also told the NTSB that the pilot flew the route approximately 20 times previously; however, this was primarily during the summer.
The Cessna 172K has no association with the Iditarod.
The Iditarod Trail Committee says that they do not have any planes associated with the race heading in that direction, as mushers will not arrive in Nome for more than a week.
Nome Search and Rescue located a downed aircraft at Hastings Creek on Monday around 10 a.m. The pilot was confirmed dead after Alaska State Troopers responded to the scene.
Earlier today, at approximately 5:40 a.m., troopers were alerted to an overdue aircraft flying from Wasilla to Nome.
The pilot's fiancée reported that the pilot could not land in Nome due to bad weather, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Instead, he planned on returning to Wasilla.
The pilot left Wasilla on Sunday at approximately 5:11 p.m, according to the NTSB. And the pilot's last communication occurred around 10:30 p.m., according to AST.
At this time, reports say the pilot was the only occupant of the plane. And the NTSB says this was not a commercial flight.
The pilot’s identify has not been released because next of kin still needs to be notified.
NTSB says they will conduct an on-scene detailed examination of the wreckage as it lays east of Nome on Tuesday.
The tail number of the orange and white Cessna 172K is 736AS. Anyone with any information of the incident is asked to contact the NTSB at (202) 314-6290.