ANCHORAGE - The National Transportation Safety Board has released reports on two deadly Alaska small-plane crashes in early September, among a series of findings on similar incidents expected to be released in coming weeks.
In an NTSB factual report on a Sept. 9 crash near Big Lake released Thursday, investigators say 66-year-old pilot Kenneth Whedbee, who died in the crash, had taken off in an experimental Zenith CH-701 aircraft shortly before 1 p.m. looking for an animal in the area. His passenger, 37-year-old Jason Scott, was also injured.
"According to a family member of the pilot, a large male grizzly bear had been leaving tracks on the family's private runway over the last several years," NTSB officials wrote. "When a report came in that the grizzly had been seen protecting a moose kill in the area, the pilot decided to take the airplane, and see if he could locate the bear."
Then, of interest to Miss D and Jenny S:
While [Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB's Alaska office] says the report in the Big Lake crash is factual and doesn't indicate a probable cause, the details of the incident are similar to those of a Sept. 5 Cessna 170B crash near Glennallen which killed 41-year-old former Alaska State Trooper Michael Zobel.
The NTSB issued a brief report indicating the Glennallen crash's probable cause Wednesday, following witness reports that Zobel had been turning to spot the carcass of a moose he had shot, at speeds below the Cessna's rated stall speed.
"Given the lack of mechanical deficiencies with the airplane and engine, the witness statements, and the nature of the damage to the airplane, it is likely that the pilot inadvertently stalled and spun the airplane at a low altitude and was unable to recover," NTSB officials wrote.