Searchers find body of co-pilot in fatal plane crash

Posted: Sunday, December 24, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Rescuers on Friday recovered the body of a man who was killed in a fuel plane crash near Redoubt Volcano, Alaska State Troopers said.

A search-and-rescue dog located the body of Fletcher Machen, 33, about 200 feet from the crash site on the western shore of Cook Inlet, trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.

At 11:30 a.m., searchers using avalanche probes found the body buried under two feet of snow.

Machen was the co-pilot on board the C-46 cargo plane operated by Everts Air Fuel. Wilkinson said Machen's body is being sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

The body of pilot James Munson had not been found by the time the search was halted at 1 p.m. because of worsening weather.

The Kenai-based men were returning to Kenai after making a fuel delivery to Nondalton.

The wreckage was spotted Thursday on a steep ridge line.

Searchers plan to return to the crash site, when weather permits and volunteers are coordinated, Wilkinson said.

Munson, 44, was involved in a previous fatal crash involving a SouthCentral Air plane. On Jan. 29, 1997, he was piloting a twin-engine deHavilland Caribou when it went down in bad weather near the remote military airfield at Sparrevohn.

Co-pilot Steven J. Walters was killed in the crash, which occurred shortly after the crew radioed that they had lost an engine. Munson suffered several broken bones and lacerations.

The flight was headed from Aniak to Kenai when it crashed.

After investigating the accident, the National Transporation Safety Board concluded that engine problems and bad weather were contributing factors.

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