NTSB releases preliminary report on Cove Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board last Friday released its preliminary report of a July 3 plane crash in Halibut Cove that severely damaged a Cessna 206 flown by Anchorage pilot Alice Rogoff.

Rogoff, 64, the owner of the Alaska Dispatch News, crashed her plane about 5:50 p.m. after an aborted landing. The July 8 report said the floatplane hit the water about 100 feet from the Danny J, a tour boat approaching the dock of the Saltry Restaurant at the time of the crash. In a statement released on July 5 through her lawyer, Rogoff said she did not suffer any physical injuries.

According to the NTSB report, Rogoff took off from the Homer Airport about 5:40 p.m. in her amphibious, float-equipped plane — a plane that could land on a runway as well as water. Rogoff did not file a flight plan and flew under visual flight rules.

She approached the community of Halibut Cove from the east and heading west. Shaun Williams, the NTSB air safety investigator who wrote the preliminary report, said the report had a typographical error giving the incorrect direction of the Cessna. He said that error would be fixed in the final report, due in about 10 months.

The community of Halibut Cove is located on Ismailof Island and along the shore to the south across a small lagoon. Halibut Cove also refers to a bay east of Ismailof Island. The body of water between Ismailof Island and the south shore has a small area near the west end called the Narrows and a larger area to the east. Rogoff flew in from the east and attempted to land in the larger body of water.

Rogoff briefly touched down her plane in what the report called “calm, glassy waters,” but for some reason aborted her landing. The wind was 9 knots gusting to 14 knots from 260 degrees, or almost due west. The Cessna was flying into the wind.

According to the report, several witnesses said that Rogoff made a steep climb to the west and then veered sharply to the south in a nose-high attitude.

The Cessna continued climbing south-southwest and hit a stand of trees on the southern shoreline of Halibut Cove. When it hit the trees, the collision sheered the plane’s left float. The Cessna then fell nose first and hit the water about 100 feet from the Danny J.

The plane landed near where the Narrows, the entrance to the cove, begins to widen. Rogoff freed herself from the sinking plane and rescuers reached her within moments after the accident, the report said.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers responded by boat to the crash and found Rogoff had left the scene before troopers arrived.

Trooper spokesperson Tim Despain said troopers did not interview Rogoff at the scene and did not make contact with the pilot. Despain said troopers turned over the investigation to the National Transportation Safety Board.

While Alaska law requires vehicle operators to report accidents immediately and not leave the scene of an accident, Despain said that law applies to vehicles being operated on the road.

Troopers responded to the crash as a potential search-and-rescue and to check on the welfare of the pilot and possible passengers, Despain said. Troopers were told the pilot appeared to be fine and had been given transportation from the scene. No one at the scene suggested Rogoff was intoxicated, Despain said.

Saunders said Rogoff complied with NTSB rules requiring notification of a crash. She had 10 days from the date of the crash, or until July 13, to file a written report with the NTSB.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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