Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, talks to the media about his nomination for Speaker of the House in this February 2019 photo. Knopp died July, 31, in a plane crash near his home town. (Michael Penn/ Juneau Empire File)

Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, talks to the media about his nomination for Speaker of the House in this February 2019 photo. Knopp died July, 31, in a plane crash near his home town. (Michael Penn/ Juneau Empire File)

Breaking: Soldotna Rep. Gary Knopp killed in plane crash

Plane crashed near Soldotna

This is a developing story, check back soon for updates.

House Majority: Alaska Rep. Gary Knopp killed in plane crash

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska state Rep. Gary Knopp was killed in the mid-air collision of two planes near Soldotna on Friday, the Alaska House Majority said in a statement.

Alaska State Troopers would not confirm Knopp’s death beyond saying the mid-air collision near the airport in Soldotna was a fatal crash.

The two planes collided near the Soldotna Airport Friday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. Wreckage came down near the Sterling Highway, briefly closing the thoroughfare.

Officials have not released how many people were on board the two planes or the extent of injuries.

Tributes began pouring for Knopp soon after the news broke. Gov. Mike Dunleavy immediately ordered the U.S. and state flags to be lowered to half staff and to remain in that position of honor until sunset Monday.

“The first lady and I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to Rep. Knopp’s family as they mourn his untimely passing,” Dunleavy said in a statement. “Throughout his 42 years on the Kenai Peninsula, Gary became well known as an avid outdoorsman, a skilled pilot, and a dedicated public servant. His presence will no doubt be missed by those he faithfully served.”

“I’m devastated and shocked to learn of the crash that claimed Gary Knopp’s life,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham said. “Gary was a one-of-a-kind leader and a true Alaskan who worked tirelessly for his district in the Legislature. He will be missed by many.”

Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak said Knopp was not only a colleague, but a close friend. “I’m heartbroken and devastated, and thoughts are with Gary’s wife, Helen, and his entire family.”

“A single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and a twin-engine Piper Aztec collided in mid-air approximately 2 miles northeast of Soldotna Airport,” the FAA statement said after the 8:30 a.m. crash.

Alaska State Troopers on scene were feeding information back to a National Transportation Safety Board investigator in Anchorage immediately after the crash, said Clint Johnson, head of the NTSB’s Alaska division.

The FAA sent two investigators to the crash site, which is about 150 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula.

The NTSB will investigate the accident and determine a probable cause.

This is an Associated Press report.

More in News

Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, talks to the media about his nomination for Speaker of the House in this February 2019 photo. Knopp died July, 31, in a plane crash near his home town. (Michael Penn/ Juneau Empire File)
Breaking: Soldotna Rep. Gary Knopp killed in plane crash

Developing story

In this June 2019 photo, people gather outside U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office in Juneau, Alaska, to protest the proposed Pebble Mine. The Pebble Limited Partnership, which wants to build a copper and gold mine near the headwaters of a major U.S. salmon fishery in southwest Alaska, says it plans to offer residents in the region a dividend. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
Mine developer sees review as positive for Alaska project

Pebble is on track to win key approvals. Critics say it has been rushed and is inadequate.

AP FILE PHOTO BY James Poulson/Daily Sitka Sentinel 
                                The bronze statue of 19th century Russian America Governor Alexander Baranov sports a hard hat and a reflective vest, after being moved from its original site in front of Centennial Hall in Sitka in February 2013. Far away from Confederate memorials, Alaska residents have joined the movement to eliminate statues of colonialists accused of abusing and exploiting Indigenous people. The effort has already resulted in the statue of Baranov being taken out of public view in the city.
Homer Farmers Market: Booths are brimming

I didn’t even get to the Homer Farmers Market until 2 p.m.… Continue reading

Gary Stevens looks to keep his Alaska Senate seat

Incumbent Gary Stevens is making a bid to keep his seat in… Continue reading

Soldotna’s Greg Madden makes bid for Alaska Senate

Relative political newcomer Greg Madden of Soldotna is hoping to serve his… Continue reading

John Cox makes a run at Senate District P seat

In a bid for what would be his freshman term in state… Continue reading

The Compass men’s residential addiction treatment facility, located about 15 miles east of Homer, Alaska, had an open house on Saturday, July 25, 2020. The facility is slated to accept its first clients in about a week. (Photo courtesy Lindsey Cashman)
Residential addiction treatment facility for men opens outside Homer

Men from the Homer area and beyond seeking recovery from addiction can… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Additional hospital staff test positive for COVID-19 as state count continues to rise

Alaska recorded 91 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 67 new… Continue reading

Most Read