NTSB Advances Investigation Into Fatal Training Flight Crash

Wreckage of the Cessna 208. (Photo courtesy  Alaska State Troopers)
Wreckage of the Cessna 208. (Photo courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

The National Transportation Safety Board has finished its on-scene investigation into the crash that killed two Hageland Aviation pilots Tuesday.

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Derrick Cedars, of Bethe,l and Greggory McGee, from Anchorage, died in Tuesday’s crash.

The Cessna 208 went down in a willow patch near Three Step Mountain, 30 miles southeast of Bethel. A post-crash fire destroyed the airplane and burned nearby bushes.

Investigators are releasing few details beyond that.

“The wreckage unfortunately was what we would refer to as very fragmented, and obviously there was a post crash fire, so a lot of the components coming out there will be in smaller pieces,” Clint Johnson, the Chief of the Alaska Regional Office of the National Transportation Safety Board, said. “So they’re going to be slingloading the parts and pieces in its entirety back to Bethel.”

The wreckage will then be flown to Anchorage within the next week.

“They will do a wreckage lay out and be able to go though each one of those components with a fine tooth comb,” Johnson said. “We’ll be able to document each and every piece of the wreckage that comes back.”

The investigator in charge, Chris Shaver, documented the aircraft and what troopers call a “large debris field.” Back in Bethel, he conducted interviews with Hageland as well as family and friends of the pilots. A Cessna investigator also visited the crash scene, and State Troopers Thursday brought back the pilots’ remains. A team from Pratt & Whitney, the engine manufacturer, will inspect the engine once it’s transported to Anchorage.

There was also what’s known as a Transportation Disaster Assistance Investigator in town Friday to help the families and co-workers of the pilots who were killed. The crash occurred just before 4 p.m. in clear and calm weather as the two pilots conducted a training flight. NTSB officials say they don’t know who was flying at the time.

“There were obviously two qualified pilots at the controls, each one of the of them had controls, that’s going to be a little bit tough to determine for absolutely sure,” Johnson said. “Again, with details like that, once Chris gets back and we start taking a look at the wreckage, we might be able to determine that, but right now, that’s pretty much an unknown.”

The report from the NTSB is expected soon.