Two die in small plane crash near Mount McKinley

Posted: Tuesday, July 09, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A pilot and a friend were killed when their small plane crashed in a pass near Mount McKinley, officials said Monday.

The wreckage from the red and white Super Cub was found at about 1 p.m. in Anderson Pass, 25 miles northeast of Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve.

Pilot Larry Erie, an employee of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Palmer, was killed in the crash, along with a woman visiting from Minnesota, said Lt. Col. Chuck Foster, director of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.

The woman's identity was being withheld until her family could be notified, said Kristi Kendall, a senior airman with the Alaska Air National Guard.

The wreckage was spotted by a Civil Air Patrol squadron out of Fairbanks at about 5,000 feet in rocky, steep terrain. It was found along a route commonly used by small planes flying over the Alaska Range.

Erie and his friend had left from an airstrip just north of Anchorage at about noon July 4. Erie left a message for his son saying that they were headed toward Mount McKinley and would return by evening. Erie indicated to his son that he was checking out moose hunting sites.

When the two failed to return, a friend reported the plane overdue.

Erie did not file a flight plan. The search for the plane began Saturday. Thirteen Civil Air Patrol planes were involved in the search Sunday. Ten planes were looking Monday.

After the wreckage was spotted by the Civil Air Patrol planes, a helicopter crew with the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th Rescue Squadron landed at the site and confirmed the two were dead.

The bodies were loaded onto the helicopter to be flown to the medical examiner in Anchorage, Kendall said.

The cause of the crash has not been determined. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

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