Baggage Door Implicated In Kodiak Crash

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Survivors of the crash of a Piper Chieftain that killed six people off Kodiak Island in Alaska last weekend say the nose baggage door came open as the aircraft was taking off. The plane crashed into the ocean about 100 yards from the end of the runway and a taxiing floatplane picked up the four surviving passengers. Opening baggage doors have been cited as factors in two previous Chieftain crashes in Alaska, according to The Juneau Empire. In both previous incidents the door came loose and hit the wing or propeller, resulting in the crash. It's not clear if that happened in this accident and NTSB investigator Clint Johnson refused to speculate on the door's role in the accident. The Servant Air flight was carrying a group of Russian Orthodox faithful to an Orthodox Christmas celebration at Homer, Alaska. Meanwhile, the FAA has cleared another Alaska carrier of wrongdoing in another high-profile accident there last summer. Five of nine people aboard a SeaWind Aviation Beaver died when the aircraft went down shortly after takeoff from Traitors Cove, 27 miles north of Ketchikan, on Aug. 16. According to company spokesman Jack Davies, the FAA concluded that none of its regs had been violated and it's closed its file. The NTSB is continuing its investigation and the report probably won't be out until next summer. Weather may have been a factor.