Police identify victims of ultralight crash

Posted: Friday, June 06, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) One of the state's top ultralight aircraft pilots and a student were killed Thursday in a crash about two miles from the Birchwood airport.

Anchorage Police Sgt. John Norsworthy said Mike Jacober, owner of Arctic Sparrow Aircraft, and Robert Pelkey of Homer died in the crash.

Arctic Sparrow sells ultralights and trains pilots out of its offices at the airport.

People in another aircraft spotted the ultralight wreckage just before 3 p.m. on the Knik Arm mud flats. An Alaska State Troopers helicopter flying in the area detoured to look for it and found the ultralight on fire, said police officer James Conley.

The crash ignited a small brush fire started and the Anchorage Fire Department sent out a helicopter crew to put it out, said AFD spokesman Tom Kempton said.

The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Rick Huggett, an Arctic Sparrow employee for about two years, said he and Jacober were instructing students Thursday in two-seat ultralight trainers. The weather was not bad, he said, but there was some wind.

Huggett said they routinely train over the inlet because the air is usually flat and smooth. Each student flies for about an hour. The instructor sits in the back seat and is able to take control if something goes wrong, he said.

Pelkey, the student training with Jacober, had about five hours of flying time in the ultralight, Huggett said. Arctic Sparrow requires a person to have between 10 and 20 hours to go solo, he said.

Huggett had flown back to the airstrip to drop off a student and pick up another. After taking off again, he saw smoking wreckage.

Jacober had been flying and promoting ultralights in Alaska for about 25 years. He earned national recognition in 1993 when he flew into the base camp on Mount McKinley and spent the next seven days soaring thermals around North America's tallest mountain. During one flight, he flew over the 20,320-foot summit.

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