Cape Smythe plane crashes near Kotzebue; pilot suffers minor injuries

Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A pilot with Cape Smythe Air Service came away with minor injuries after his twin-engine plane crashed on the sea ice about three miles from the Kotzebue Airport.

Milas K. Pfeiffer Jr., 48, of Barrow, was the plane's only occupant when it went down about 11:40 a.m. Monday, the Alaska State Troopers said.

Pfeiffer was taken to Kotzebue by snowmachine and was treated at the Manilaq Medical Center. The plane appeared to be a total loss, troopers said.

The fuselage was basically intact, but the landing gear was sheared off, the propellers bent back, the windshield had a spiderweb crack and an engine nearly was torn off, said John Garoutte, a Kotzebue resident who rode a snowmachine out to the crash site Monday afternoon.

The ice was smooth and solid except for some overflow, he told the Anchorage Daily News.

Wayne Meyer, director of operations for the commuter carrier, said the pilot was on a regularly scheduled flight from Barrow and had dropped off passengers at Wainwright and Point Lay.

Company officials did not say what caused the accident.

It was the third eventful landing for Cape Smythe within the past month.

A Piper Cheyenne veered out of control Feb. 9 while landing at Wales, causing minor injuries to eight passengers and the pilot. And on Jan. 25, the pilot of a Piper 1040 landed in Savoonga without lowering his landing gear. No one was injured in that incident.

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