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State troopers leading efforts to recover pilot from crash site south of Chigniks


US Coast Guard located wreckage of Cessna 208B at 3000 feet Monday evening. AST will coordinate difficult recovery efforts. Pilot Gabriele Cianetti, 54, was killed and stilled trapped in the wreckage. 

Credit U.S. FAA
An ELT for a Cessna 208B was transmitting south of the Chigniks Monday. The Grant flight that is overdue is believed to have left Port Heiden on its way to Perryville with only the pilot onboard.

This is a developing story and will be updated as details become available.

Update, Tuesday 1:00 p.m.: Authorities have shifted into recovery operations for a pilot killed south of the Chigniks Monday. Gabriele Cianetti, 54, was the only occupant in a Grant Aviation Cessna 208B Caravan that crashed into a mountain on its way to Perryville.

“The current location puts the wreckage at about 3000 feet, on a fifty degree down slope," AST Sgt. Luis Nieves said Tuesday morning. State troopers are taking the lead on the recovery. "We’re reaching out to some of our mountain rescue partners, then we’re going to coordinate getting flights out to the location. It’s going to take a little bit to get out there.”

Gabriele Cianetti, 54, was piloting a Cessna 208B Caravan between Port Heiden and Perryville Monday when he crashed at roughly 3000' asl. Cianetti, a pilot with Grant Aviation since 2014, was killed.

The mountain where the crash site is located is still snow covered, said Nieves, which will likely make the recovery a little hazardous this late in the spring. The pilot’s body is trapped inside the plane.

It is too soon to speculate what went wrong during Monday's routine flight, said Nieves.

“I’m looking at the wreckage, it’s a pretty significant impact into the side of a mountain where it’s at. As to cause, who knows at this point. Was it low visibility, was it equipment failure, we don’t know. NTSB has to determine that.”

Cianetti was from Italy. He had flown with Grant Aviation since 2014.

Update, 11:00 p.m.: On Monday evening the U.S. Coast Guard reported that the wreckage of a missing flight had been found, and confirmed the pilot had been killed. The Cessna 208B Caravan, a Grant Aviation flight that was bound for Perryville Monday, did not arrive as scheduled. An ELT led searchers to the mountainous area between the Chigniks and Perryville.

"The plane was found 228 miles southwest of Kodiak at an elevation of 3000 feet by a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew," said petty officer Jon-Paul Rios. "Unfortunately, when we lowered a rescue swimmer to assess the wreckage, the lone person aboard the Cessna, the pilot, was reported deceased."

Rios said a recovery effort would be undertaken. The pilot's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Authorities did not offer specific details of the wreckage, or suggest any factors that may have led to the crash. The NTSB will be investigating.

KDLG, original post:  A search is underway for a missing Grant Aviation plane the National Transportation Safety Board said was en route between Port Heiden and Perryville Monday. Clint Johnson, Alaska NTSB chief, said air assets from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak were in the air and tracking an emergency locator transmitter mid-afternoon.

Around 5:00 p.m., the NTSB said that the ELT signal appeared to be approximately 15 miles south of the Chigniks, and that the pilot was the only person believed to have been onboard the Cessna 208B Caravan.

According to the Grant Aviation website, the schedule called for the Cessna to fly from Port Heiden to Perryville, then back to the three Chignik communities, between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Monday.

A Chignik Airport weather station reported overcast conditions around 1:00 p.m., with variable winds less than 5 mph. FAA cameras at area airports showed partly cloudy conditions around 5:00 p.m.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281.

Credit U.S. FAA
An FAA camera showed mild weather in Chignik Lake looking south Monday afternoon.

Credit U.S. FAA
Similar mild weather was shown on the FAA cam from Perryville's airport looking northwest Monday afternoon.