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Float plane carrying seven people crashed in Lake Iliamna on Saturday

Kokhanok. March 2019.
Izzy Ross
A view from Kokhanok. March 2019.

A float plane carrying seven people crashed in Lake Iliamna on Saturday evening, roughly a half mile from Kokhanok. Newhalen Lodge operated the plane, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers in Fairbanks received a report of the crash around 6:20 p.m. Residents reported that the plane was sinking and the passengers were in the water.

Gary Nielsen, a resident of Kokhanok, received a call from the local village administrator about the crash and watched the scene through binoculars.

“We were just sitting at home. We got a phone call that there was a plane down at fish camp out on the water. The airplane was upside down and well over a mile offshore and going down lake,” he said.  

Nielsen said the local response was quick and many residents volunteered to help.

Troopers in Fairbanks and Dillingham, the Village of Kokhanok and lodges in the area worked together to rescue the passengers by skiff. Responders took the passengers to the village clinic around 7 p.m. Only minor injuries were reported.

Clint Johnson, chief of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that the plane has since submerged completely into the water.

“So what we know at this point right now, we have been working very closely with the folks from Newhalen Lodge. And the airplane unfortunately crashed on takeoff. And the airplane, unfortunately, is submerged.” he said.

The Board is still investigating the cause of the crash.

Get in touch with the author at Katherine@kdlg.org or (907) 842-2200.

Katherine is covering local stories in Dillingham and the Bristol Bay area for the summer of 2022, and she's excited to be in Alaska for the first time. She's passionate about all forms of storytelling, and she recently graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, a 15-week intensive in radio and podcast production. When not working on stories or hosting the morning news, Katherine enjoys cooking, reading, and going on aimless walks. She'll pet any dog that wants attention.