Dave Brooks / KTUU
ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The floatplane that crashed over Anchorage’s Hillside neighborhood on Saturday completed two “low level, high speed” turns shortly before going down, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Investigators describe the aircraft as an “experimental amateur-built” Polar Cub equipped with floats. The pilot and sole occupant of the floatplane, identified by Anchorage police as 75-year-old James Hefty, was killed in the crash. No other injuries were reported and the aircraft did not impact any homes.
At around 4:30 p.m., several witnesses in the Hillside area saw the Polar Cub make two “low level, high speed, 360-degree right turns.”
“The witnesses said that the accident airplane’s first 360-degree turn was accomplished at an altitude between 150 and 200 feet above ground level,” NTSB wrote in the report. “But the second pass was much lower. One homeowner stated that as the airplane passed over his home, it was about 50 feet above his roofline.”
On the second turn, the plane banked at an extremely steep angle before it pitched down and began a rapid nosedive, the report says. The engine rpm increased significantly and the wings leveled just before the planed impacted a group of small trees near a home.
“During the collision sequence the airplane’s floats were severed, and the airplane subsequently descended onto a neighborhood road, coming to rest inverted,” investigators wrote.
The aircraft was completely destroyed in the crash and the wreckage was incinerated by an ensuing fire.