ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska commercial pilot flew 84 miles (135 kilometers) to make an emergency landing at a community with emergency services after apparently damaging landing gear at his original destination, according to an early review of the incident by the National Transportation Safety Board. None of the emergency services were needed.
The Lake Clark Air airplane with a pilot and seven passengers on Thursday took off from Dillingham for Pilot Point but wound up making an emergency landing in King Salmon.
Lake Clark Air owner Glen Alsworth Sr. said in a phone interview said the pilot chose King Salmon for its emergency services.
“Pilot Point has no real medical service, no real emergency response services,” he said. “It’s basically a remote village with no services, and if you were in a situation where you felt some of those services may necessary, you would want to go to a place where services are available instead of being in the middle of nowhere with no help around.”
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No one was hurt. “There were no bumps, bruises or injuries except to the aircraft itself,” Alsworth said.
Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB regional office in Anchorage, said the agency spoke briefly to the pilot Thursday and planned a more extensive interview. Johnson expects a preliminary report to be filed by next week.
Pilot Point, with a population of 76, and King Salmon, with a population of 300, is on the eastern end of the Alaska Peninsula, the body of land that juts out from mainland Alaska toward the Aleutian Islands.
The pilot attempted a landing at Pilot Point and pulled up when landing gear hit hard.
“My understanding is he touched down hard, hit the runway, had a hard landing, in essence, and basically did a go-around at that point,” Johnson said.
Back in the air, a warning light indicated that landing gear on the airplane’s right side would not lock down. The pilot flew north and notified King Salmon officials to prepare for an emergency landing.
Alsworth praised the response.
“They had everything rolling — the firetrucks, the emergency equipment. They were prepared for whatever contingency could have occurred,” Alsworth said. “Fortunately, they didn’t need any of it.”
The airplane landed on King Salmon’s main runway and sustained damage to its right wing and landing gear. The aircraft by Friday had been moved and the runway reopened.
The NTSB in August conducted a rare hearing outside of Washington, D.C., in Anchorage. The purpose was to increase awareness of “controlled flight into terrain” accidents, in which an airworthy aircraft is flown unintentionally into ground or water. The incident Thursday was a landing accident, not a CFIT crash, Johnson said.