At 9:45 a.m. Thursday, a floatplane crashed in the water near Pacific Air in Ketchikan. Ketchikan Police Department Deputy Chief Eric Mattson says a pilot and four passengers were aboard. They all were removed from the plane safely. He says at least one person was transported to the hospital. He assumes it was for minor injuries.
“When we arrived, we saw the plane maybe 150-200 yards away from the building of the Westflight,” Mattson said. “There were several watercrafts that were rendering aid. You could see that one of the float planes was overturned. I could see the tail, some wing, the float sticking up.”
Mattson said a large seiner and at least half a dozen smaller boats were helping the pilot and passengers. There was also a local fisherman on a 30-foot fishing vessel that brought them to the dock.
Michael Perron is a passenger on the Sojourn cruise ship and saw the plane crash while looking from a deck on the ship. Perron is a former pilot for private planes in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
“And it touched down, everything seemed fine, and then—I’m just guessing—he turned before the plane slowed down, and then the wing clipped the water and he dove in,” Perron said.
Ed Dewing was on the 10th deck rail of the Sojourn cruise ship and happened to be videotaping before it landed. He wanted to send the video back home, but he says he began to freak out as he watched the crash.
“I said to my wife, ‘wow, this is really going to be cool because he banked in-between the two cruise ships and landed right here,’” Dewing said. “So I said I’ll video this. So I did, he came in—touchdown. And it just seemed to veer left way too soon speed-wise, you know, that’s just my opinion. At that point I was just sort of hoping everybody was okay.”
Despite watching the crash, Dewing says he would still go on a floatplane in the future.
“This would not deter me one bit,” Dewing said. “ I mean it’s like catastrophic thing, you know? How many take offs and landings do you have a day here in the bay and you know, how often does this happen? So, no. Same with airplane rides—anything can happen. Probably chances of getting ran over crossing the street here are way greater than doing what happened out there so no, wouldn’t deter me at all.”
Mattson says the craft was pulled over to a dock by Southeast Stevedoring. Unless otherwise directed, the plane will remain in the water until the National Transportation Advisory Board (NTSB) conducts an investigation.
This is the third floatplane crash in the Ketchikan area in two months. The first on May 13th involved two planes that collided in the air. Six people died in that crash, and six survived. The second was a single plane that flipped when landing near Metlakatla. The two people on board that plane died.
NTSB investigations into those incidents are not complete.