ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board released details of a fatal midair collision between two Alaska sightseeing planes, which include descriptions of the moments before and after the crash.
The agency released hundreds of pages of investigation documents filed by teams in Alaska and Washington, D.C., The Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.
Six people died in the May 2019 crash including Mountain Air Service pilot Randy Sullivan and his four passengers, and a passenger in a plane owned by Taquan Air. Ten people suffered injuries when the aircraft converged at 3,350 feet (1,021 meters).
The descriptions of the crash were obtained from the surviving passengers of the Taquan plane and Lou Beck, the 60-year-old pilot.
The investigation is expected to conclude next year, but the agency opened the accident investigation docket to allow public examination of the records so far, said Clint Johnson, the NTSB Alaska head.
The Ketchikan-based floatplanes carrying passengers from the same cruise ship, the Royal Princess, were returning from tours of Misty Fjords National Monument.
Mountain Air’s single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 MK 1 Beaver and Taquan’s larger turboprop de Havilland DHC-3 Otter collided just after noon over the west side of George Inlet.
“I remember somebody saying ‘Pull up.’ I don’t know if that was me or some other passengers,” one of the passengers told investigators. “After a second or two of seeing the rapidly closing distance, I realized that it — he wasn’t going to break off and we were going to impact.”
The propeller of the Taquan plane hit the other aircraft, leaving deep cuts later documented by investigators. The tail of the Mountain Air plane hit the left side of the Taquan aircraft, popping open a door.
The leg of a passenger sitting near the door was sucked outside the plane as other passengers held him in place, witnesses said.
Beck estimated his plane took five seconds to hit the water 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of Ketchikan.
At least three people could be heard saying, “brace brace brace,” on a camera recording audio before the Taquan plane hit the water.
The Mountain Air plane broke up in flight, scattering debris across 3,000 feet (914 meters).
Mountain Air Service closed after the accident.