NTSB Says Pilot Error To Blame In Fatal Midair Crash

The National Transportation Safety board has found that pilot error was to blame in the 2011 crash that killed one pilot and injured another in separate planes.

A Grant Cessna 208 was flown Scott Veal of Kenai, coming from Tooksook Bay. A Ryan Air 207 was flown by Kristin Sprauge, age 26 on return from Tununuk. The two were in a personal relationship.They were flying side-by-side on the way back to Bethel, when suddenly, Veal maneuvered his airplane above and over the top of Sprague’s airplane.

She said that she could not see him and that she was concerned about his location. According to interviews, Veal then said “Whatever you do, don’t pitch up.” The next thing Sprague remembered was seeing the wings and cockpit of the descending Cessna 208B pass by the right side of her airplane, before striking her wing.

Veal’s plane began descending, ultimately entering a steep, vertical, nose-down descent before crashing into the tundra and starting on fire. Sprague made an emergency landing on the turndra, despite her damaged wing.

Investigators later found part of the Cessna 208’s vertical stabilizer assembly, crushed and distorted, embedded in the Cessna 207′s right wing.

In the probable cause statement issued this month, the NTSB says it was the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate clearance during the unannounced abrupt maneuver that resulting in a midair collision.