Air taxi crashes in Nanwalek

Air taxi crashes in Nanwalek

A Smokey Bay Air plane crashed on landing at the Nanwalek Airport a little before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. No passengers were on board and the pilot escaped without injuries, said National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Mitch Gallo.

The crash caused major damage to the Cessna 207, Gallo said. Gallo said the single-engine plane touched down too far on the runway as it headed north toward the village. The plane had no mechanical difficulties, Gallo said — the plane just ran out of room.

Photos sent to the Homer News by a Nanwalek resident, Randall Wayne Brown, show the plane hit bollards protecting a service hatch toward the village end of the runway. Brown said in an email it appeared the wind switched on the pilot from a headwind to a tailwind. After the landing Brown said he saw a windsock at the airport flying steadily from the southeast.

Gallo said the crash remains under investigation, with a preliminary report to be released within 30 days. He said it is too early to determine the exact cause of the crash.

A message was left with Smokey Bay Air seeking comment, but at press time no one had called the Homer News back.

The Nanwalek Airport has been identified by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities as an airport in need of replacement. The 1,850-foot north-south runway is boxed in between village buildings to the north and a 100-foot hill to the south. The runway also is subject to cross winds coming out of the east. DOT&PF has proposed building a new 3,900-foot airport between Nanwalek and Port Graham that would both villages.