NTSB: Civil Air Patrol plane crashed in Alaska

Associated Press

Anchorage, Alaska — Federal authorities say the small plane that crashed into a building in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, belongs to the Civil Air Patrol.

But Clint Johnson, Alaska region chief for the National Transportation Safety Board, says there were no sanctioned flights when the plane crashed early Tuesday.

The Civil Air Patrol is a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, made up of volunteers who help in search and rescue missions.

Karen Bowen, a bookkeeper who answered the phone at the group’s office, relayed instructions from the group’s commander that the crash is under investigation. A message was left for the volunteer commander, who wasn’t in the office.

Johnson says there were blustery winds when the plane clipped the corner of an office building and then crashed into the side of an adjacent commercial building. But he says nothing is being ruled out as a cause.

Kent Haina, a 747 captain for UPS, said he was taking out his garbage when he saw the plane go down at a shallow angle and disappear behind a building. He then heard a loud thud and saw a plume of black smoke.

Haina said the wind was howling at the time.

“(The engine) didn’t sound like it was in trouble, but the weather was pretty windy,” he said. “I said to myself it’s not good weather to be flying in.”

Immediately after the crash, the power went out in Haina’s condo, he said.

Crews responded quickly and had the blaze under control, said Don Tallman of the Anchorage Fire Department.

The commercial building appeared to be unoccupied at the time of the crash, though crews were searching it to make sure, Tallman said. Authorities cordoned off an area around the building, closing several roads.

The aircraft also struck a transformer, Boyd said, and some power outages were reported in the area.

The crash happened in the heart of downtown, in an area surrounded by office buildings, hotels and other businesses less than 10 miles from the Anchorage airport. It occurred before most nearby businesses opened for the day.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. He had no additional details on the plane or the crash.