Cargo Plane Crashes Near Denali National Park

Dan Bross and Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Three people are presumed dead in yesterday’s plane crash in Denali National Park. The National Transportation Safety Board reports two pilots and a passenger are known to have been on board the Fairchild C-123 cargo plane which went down in the park entrance area in good weather.  NTSB investigator Clint Johnson says several people saw the mid-afternoon crash.

Johnson says the twin-engine Fairchild registered to Delta Junction-based All West Freight was loaded with construction equipment and headed from Palmer to Unalakleet, when it went down.  The vintage plane impacted the south slope of Mount Healy, within a mile of Denali National Park headquarters, about 200 yards north of the park road, but Park Service spokeswoman Kris Fister says no one on the ground was hurt in the crash.

Fister says accounts and photos from numerous people who saw the plane go down do not point to anything that explains the accident.  The crash started a wildfire that was contained at about an acre. The park road remains open, but two area trails were closed temporarily. A National Transportation Safety Board official has arrived on scene. All West is owned by Bill Michel, who has operated the cargo business from his own airfield south of Delta since 2003.

Photo courtesy of Denali National Park and Preserve

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