Airmen unharmed in plane crash near Alaska Range

Posted: Tuesday, August 05, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Two Eielson Air Force Base captains escaped injury in a crash landing near the foothills of the Alaska Range southwest of Delta Junction.

Search and rescue crews spent seven hours looking for Timothy J. Smith, 26, and David Cobb, 29, on Sunday. The men crashed in a Cessna 150 plane shortly after taking off from a gravel bar near the Trident Glacier.

The plane, owned by Smith, sustained minimal damage.

Alaska State Troopers received a distress call from the men at about 1 p.m. Sunday. Airplane and helicopter crews with the Alaska Air National Guard located the men and downed aircraft at about 8 p.m.

Troopers Sgt. Brian Wassmann said overcast weather conditions and sporadic communications made it difficult for crews to find Smith and Cobb in the remote area.

Wassmann said the cause of the crash was a rock that struck the propeller during takeoff, distorting the air flow and robbing the plane of power. The pilot landed the plane shortly after takeoff.

The men were on a personal flight, Wassmann said.

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