1379-Plane Crash – Halibut Cove, AK

General aviation is risky business, but none more risky than flying in Alaska. Every couple of weeks another small plane crashes when bad weather, water, and inhospitable terrain collide  to challenge the pilots skill. Reading about them in the newspaper is one thing, but no one wants to see one happen in slow motion in front of you.

After a wonderful visit to Halibut Cove, AK, we were boating back to Homer to return to Anchorage. As we left the dock, one of the crew yelled that a float plane had circled the cove and was coming in for a landing. I went to the back of the boat to video the landing. As I opened the back door I saw a small plane attempt to land at a faster rate than the other float planes I had previously seen on the cove. The plane hit the water hard and bounced up about forty feet, turned 90 degrees and almost touch the water with it’s left wing as everyone on the boat was screaming in horror watching the event in slow-motion. The plane wobbled up, hit an eagle nest tree trimming off the top (the eagle saw the plane coming and flew up just in time to avoid being hit), narrowly missing a house and toppling into the water fifty yards from the fully loaded tourist boat, Danny J, that was leaving for Homer.

The boat we were in was an all aluminum landing craft with a drop-down front door. The real heroes here were JT Thurston, Tony Billeci, and Janine Amon from Stillpoint Lodge. JT immediately steered the boat to the site and lowered the front door. The pilot was just coming out of the aircraft with life vest and Tony and Janine were responsible for pulling her from the water and making sure no one else was on the plane. Janine administered to the pilot who was extremely lucky to have no obvious injuries. Tony secured the plane as it was beginning to sink and with JT’s boating skills, towed the plane to the shore. Another boat came along side and transferred the stunned pilot as shocked tourists on the ferry boat and dock looked on.

We all sat in the boat in shock for a few minutes mulling how horrific this could have been if the plane had hit the house or veered into the packed ferry boat. JT powered the boat up and we made a dash to the Salty Dawg in Homer for a round of shots. Just another day in Alaska.

Several days later, in the local paper, no article appeared telling the truth of what happened. I then published my post and it was picked by local media and television stations. Since then, I have had conversations with the FAA, NTSB, and the pilots attorney. Oh, just write a simple travel blog for my friends can get you in a shit load of trouble. Remember, the rules are not made for the rich, they’re made specifically for the little people – to keep us in line. Keep your eyes on the rich and make them follow the same rules ALL people have to follow in order to preserve a great and honest society.

Seek truth and the rest will follow: Rod Stapleton

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Links to other news stories that based their reporting on my original story.
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EagleMoment of impact. Notice eagle getting away with no time to spare.
Photo was taken by someone on the Danny J ferry boat.
(This is not my photo).


After hitting tree and loosing pontoon.
Photo was taken by someone on the Danny J ferry boat.
(This is not my photo).

2425Pontoon hitting water after striking tree.
Photo was taken by someone on the Danny J ferry boat.
(This is not my photo).
2426Local television channel web site.
I took this photo.

DSCN5475Photo taken on previous day showing the tree on the left that was hit and vicinity to the red house along with spot where plane hit the water. The ferry boat at the dock is the Danny J from Homer.

DSCN5485First responders to the crash.

DSC_6138We were in this boat at the time.

DSCN5498Towing the plane to shore.

DSCN5500Plane was pulled the final few feet by people on the shore.

IMG_1569Minutes after the crash the eagle returned to its tree – minus the top.
Nest can be seen in the tree..

IMG_1570Plane during low tide.

2527Plane being helicoptered off the beach the next day.
(This is not my photo).

556-Bar1Gotta have a few shots at the Salty Dawg Saloon.