NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on Deadly 2013 Soldotna Crash

A plane crash in Soldotna last summer resulted in the deaths of 10 people. The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary findings on the crash this week.

On July 7, 2013, a single-engine de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter crashed shortly after takeoff at the Soldotna Airport, killing all nine passengers and the pilot. It was owned and operated by Rediske Air, an air charter company based in Nikiski.

Ten people were killed when an airplane crashed just after takeoff in Soldotna.
Ten people were killed when an airplane crashed just after takeoff in Soldotna.

It was on its way to the Bear Mountain Lodge, about 90 miles southwest of Soldotna. Along with the two families, it was carrying luggage, food, bedding, and other supplies for the lodge.

The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, has been investigating the crash. Clint Johnson is the chief of the NTSB’s Alaska Regional Office.

“How we approach these accidents is basically with various groups- groups meaning operations, airworthiness, survivability,” Johnson said. “When each one of those groups is finished with those reports, and the reports reach 51 percent, our policy is to open that public docket.”

He says the more than 400 pages of documents released do not include speculation on the cause of the crash.

“We’re not at a point where we’re drawing any conclusions at this point,” Johnson said. “That will be addressed in detail when the probable cause is released. Probable cause will probably be following in the next three to four months or so.”

The findings include a weight and balance study with six possible scenarios. It’s noted that the precise weight and balance of the airplane during the flight can’t be accurately determined with the limited data available.

But, the scenarios were constructed using the data that is known and quote “logical, documented assumptions.”

Johnson says the NTSB used known facts and evidence like a cell phone video taken by one of the passengers to put together the scenarios.

The victims of the crash were two families from Greenville, South Carolina. They were Chris and Stacey McManus and their two children and Milton and Kimberly Antonakos and their three children. The pilot was longtime aviator Walter Rediske.

Rediske Air declined to comment for this story.