Two dead in fuel plane crash

Posted: Thursday, December 21, 2000

Two central peninsula men are presumed dead after an Everts Air Fuel plane crashed north of Tuxedni Bay on the west side of Cook Inlet Wednesday.

Pilot Jim Munson, 44, of North Kenai, and co-pilot Fletcher Machen, 33, of Soldotna, were the only two aboard the plane, according to Alaska State Troopers. The plane, a Curtiss C-46 Commando, is a World War II-era, piston-powered military transport converted for use as a bulk fuel carrier.

Everts pilot Les Bradley said the Kenai-based plane delivered a load of fuel to the village of Nondalton, just north of Lake Iliamna, about 130 miles southwest of Kenai, and failed to return at its scheduled time.

According to the troopers, the wreckage was spotted from the air around 1:22 p.m. Thursday, at the 2,800 foot level of an "extremely steep" ridgeline due south of Mount Redoubt.

Two Air National Guard pararescue personnel were lowered to the crash site and, after an hour's search, found no indication of survivors, according to Staff Sgt. Jeff Wells at the Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage.

Wells said the 210th Rescue Squadron was joined by Civil Air Patrol pilots and others from Kenai who volunteered to help.

"There were rugged peaks of 3,500 to 4,000 feet all around," said CAP pilot Henry Knackstedt, who took part in the search. "Basically the foothills of Redoubt."

National Transportation Safety Board officials and troopers will travel to the crash site Friday, along with avalanche control experts, to recover the bodies and investigate the crash site.

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