Six walk away from Big River Lakes plane crash

Six people walked away with only minor injuries after their float plane crash landed on Big River Lakes Saturday morning, witness reported.

A pilot, fishing guide and four clients were preparing to land before a scheduled fishing trip when their single engine de Havilland Beaver caught the ground and caused the plane to skid on its nose into the spongy bog about 8 a.m.

The lake is located across Cook Inlet near the upper stretches of the Kustatan River near Redoubt Bay State Critical Habitat area. The company operating the plane was High Adventure Air Guides and Outfitters. A secretary for the company said she couldn’t give out any information or the pilot’s name.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Soldotna Aircraft and Equipment Leasing owns the plane. 

An FAA spokesperson said both the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident. The cause of the crash was not immediately available, the spokesperson said.

“It was a gentle plane crash,” said Holly Conner, 34, of Soldotna who was aboard the plane with Daryl Palmer, 40, of Soldotna. Both Palmer and Conner are Peninsula Clarion employees.

The other two fishermen were a father and son from out of state, Palmer said. The father sustained cuts to his head near his left ear, he said, but no other injuries were reported.

Palmer said the plane was preparing to land and was banking left when the accident occurred.

“We thought everything was OK up until the point it touched the ground,” Palmer said. “(The pilot) wasn’t panicking. Obviously it was loud, everybody had headphones on. (There was no) ‘brace yourself’ announcement or anything like that.”

The crash happened near Redoubt Bay Lodge. Palmer said lodge employees boated all of the passengers across the bay to the lodge and a person trained in first aid examined the survivors.

A nearby plane operated by High Adventures picked up the four passengers and the guide and returned them safely home. The pilot stayed with the plane, Conner said.

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