Engine trouble blamed for fatal Kasilof plane crash

An initial report finds that engine trouble was likely to blame for a fatal plane crash in Kasilof last month.

A loss of engine power is being blamed for an August plane crash near Cohoe Loop Road in Kasilof that killed two local residents. The National Transportation Safety Board released an initial report last week about the Aug. 22 crash of a Cessna 180 that killed pilot Brian Nolan, 69, and passenger Peter Lahndt, 57, both of Kasilof.

Weather at the time of the crash was mild, with clear skies, light winds from the northwest at 8 knots, and visibility to 10 miles.

The reports states that a homeowner standing on his deck overlooking Cook Inlet at about 8:20 p.m. saw the Cessna flying low along the beach then climb to about 300 feet, about 100 feet above treeline. The homeowner reports hearing a reduction in engine power as the nose of the plane leveled out of the climb, followed by a sound that was consistent with an engine misfiring. The plane descended into a tree-covered area just over the bluff and the homeowner then heard what sounded like the plane crashing into the trees.

Another person in the area also told NTSB investigators that he heard noises that sounded like the engine sputtering right before the crash.

The plane burst into flames immediately upon impact. At the time, Clint Johnson, Alaska NTSB chief, said that the blaze made the crash not survivable. Investigators at the site Aug. 23 reported that the fire had incinerated the fuselage and left wing of the plane.

NTSB will examine the plane’s frame and its engine, a Continental Motors 0-470 series, before making its final report.

Nolan was well known to radio stations across Alaska, as he constructed, serviced and installed antennae throughout the state, first with Southcentral Communications, which he co-founded in 1977, and later with Nolan Brothers, founded in 2002. He is survived by his wife, two kids and two grandkids.

Lahndt was raised and still lived on the family homestead in Kasilof. He owned and operated Kasilof Construction Company. He leaves behind his wife, three kids and seven grandkids.