Two Serious Injuries In Anchorage Seaplane Crash (Video)


Two people aboard a Regal Air Beaver floatplane were seriously injured when the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Lake Hood, near Anchorage, Alaska’s main airport on Tuesday, July 26. Five others aboard the aircraft escaped injury and were able to swim clear of the wreckage. The aircraft came to rest nose down in about five feet of water. Lake Hood is a busy seaplane base that’s immediately adjacent to Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage.

In a video sent to us by reader Jim Gilbertoni, the Beaver is shown departing one of two water runways at Lake Hood, climbing slowly before nosing over back into the lake in what appears to be a stall. The aircraft was en route to Katmai National Park, about 290 miles southwest of Anchorage, according to an AP report.

Airport Police and Fire Chief Aaron Danielson told the AP that the pilot reported that a gust of wind struck the aircraft during takeoff and he was trying to correct when the aircraft crashed into the water. The pilot and passengers egressed on their own, but nearby bystanders jumped into the water to help.

Credit: Jim Gilbertoni

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  1. “the pilot reported that a gust of wind struck the aircraft during takeoff and he was trying to correct when the aircraft crashed into the water” Sorry buddy, it was all on video. You got slow, stalled, entered an incipient spin, and hit the ground. And you’re incredibly lucky to be alive, as are your pax.

  2. Stall, nose high as all hell, 7 on board- CG problem? Spun in –
    Miracle that anyone survived.

  3. Holy smoke. Some very lucky folks. Nobody injured in what looks like a non survivable crash!

  4. It looks like is was windy, but that helps as long as you keep the nose into the wind.
    Turning out of that wind with a loaded draggy plane would really kill your chance of missing obstacles.

    • Once airborne, turning circles won’t make any difference. You don’t know the way the wind is blowing, neither does your aircraft. A rapid change, of course, can get you.
      But in this case, it was captain stupid.

  5. Obviously, they should check the weight since an overloaded situation as well as weight and balance issues must have contributed. Based upon the video the pilot was in a low speed climbing turn, and asking for a stall situation. With a heavily loaded plane he probably should have executed a WW II loaded bomber take off. Very lucky folks to have survived.

  6. I’ve flow that southeast takeoff many times out of lake hood in a 206 under varying wind conditions. Aborted several takeoffs for various reasons. When taking off southeast heavy with a strong south wind you have to get in ground effect and let the speed build. You also have to get lined up in a turning takoff with the east channel. You also have to maintain a crab into the wind, get to 3-400ft then turn back north.

      • Not taking off downwind. Taking off into the wind then turning east so it becomes a xwind. You have to do this to stay out of Anchorage International Airport Airspace though I have encroched on International several times due to gusty conditions to gain altitude.

  7. I don’t know about any obstacles in his flight path, but it looked like he still could have salvaged that takeoff
    after that turn if he would have just got down on the deck in ground/water effect to get some sorely needed speed up.

  8. Agree with the comments. Low altitude low speed turn, basically, no climbing at all, and based on comments, heavy load. I’m glad they survived. Pilot needs remedial training.

  9. Lots of premature condemnation by folks it seems to me. While those observations MAY be correct…. there are possibilities which may exist… such as Flight Control problems, shifting cargo, (I once had a passenger use the yoke to pull herself forward in-flight…lucky I got her to release it before things went too badly)….. my point being… let’s give the guy a needed break before we condemn his piloting skills, at LEAST until we hear from the investigation, heh?

    • I’m fairly certain that if there were flight control problems or passenger interference the pilot would have immediately blamed that instead of tacitly admitting fault, which is what you do by saying you were trying to correct for weather that by all rights you should have taken into account before departure. It’s pretty clear there’s too much AOA from the video even if airspeed is tough to judge in video. Even when the winds are nice and steady it costs you nothing to give yourself a little extra margin in case of a gust instead of maneuvering and attempting to climb aggressively.

  10. I take accidents like this very serious. The pilot here made several mistakes, some mistakes we have all made at some point but maybe never at the same time, at least not for me. I’ve read all the material I can find on this accident and have even spoken with the pilot. I find several inconclusive statements in his report and I hope people who have flown out of here can help me clear them up.

    The first one, the Pilot (Smith) claimed they were departing to the southeast but from the video it would seem more like the pilot was departing more to the south via the south landing lane. One report I saw said the pilot unanticipatedly left the water after a 3 second roll and the aircraft weathervaned into the wind and continued to turn into the wind. I find this very difficult to believe because the observer in the video was to the south east of the takeoff and the plane turned towards them then continued turning. The winds that day have mixed reports of being out of 180 and 200. This would mean the plane turned downwind rather than weathervane into the wind since their takeoff was heading 180 or less and they did a left turnout. This is also evident in the video by the water and the grass blowing from left to right. This indicated to me that the pilot upon liftoff and at a low airspeed had a headwind with a slight x wind component on takeoff and then immediately turned downwind losing his airspeed and attempting to keep the plane flying by pulling back on the yoke rather than riding out the subsequent loss of altitude to regain airspeed.

    Another issue I had is Smith, in two reports, said the winds were in the 20s and it was a gusty crosswind on takeoff. The reported wind is fairly consistent between reports at 10G16, the direction is debated between the aforementioned 180 and 200. If the winds were out of 200 that would give the greatest crosswind component so I’ll use that for the examples I am about to set forth. If the winds were 200 and he was taking off to the south as I believe the video shows, his crosswind would darn near be negligible, especially for a 1700 for pilot. If he was taking off on a southeast heading of lets say 140, this means his crosswind would only be 9G14 which would require a bit more skill to perform a safe takeoff but to a 1700 hour pilot, it wouldn’t be an issue. I am not sure of the procedures at Lake Hood but it seems there is plenty of takeoff lane to orient an aircraft into the wind perfectly and if anyone has any input on that I’d love to hear it because I am not sure why you would need to take, as Smith put it, a gusty 20know crosswind.

    I have been told the Beaver can be an interesting plane to fly so It would be nice to hear more about it as well.

    The final problem I had is the left turn out and aggressive pitch. As mentioned, on one of the reports, Smith claimed the aircraft uncontrollably weathervaned into th wind but the video and the runways and meters show a different story. A downwind turn is never one someone desires, especially when heavy and slow. The loss of lift not only from the loss in airspeed but the turn itself makes it a maneuver I try and avoid if I can. I have however done and have scared myself doing so. When turning downwind in slow flight, you will lose airspeed or altitude, there’s no way around it except, in the name of james Pumphrey, “Mo Powr Baby”. The risks can however be mitigated by doing a long slow turn on course and pitching the nose down if you start getting too slow. My personal belief is that Smith, felt the slow airspeed and then noticed the aircraft settling and losing some altitude as he turned downwind, he panicked and attempted to avoid the loss in altitude by pulling back on the controls and slowing the aircraft even further to the point of the stall spin. As an instructor, I see this often. If a pilot has never encountered such a feeling, when the aircraft starts losing altitude, their first reaction is to pull back on the yoke. It is very hard to get students to do the right thing to either hold the nose where it is or even lower it slightly to maintain or gain airspeed as they feel they may strike the surface again. I recommend doing this technique over trying to salvage your masculinity and forcing the aircraft to maintain altitude. I would rather hit the ground in a semi-controlled manner than stall spin the aircraft and pile drive it into the water or ground as we see here.

    My concern is that this pilot is now, just 7 months after this accident, the Captain at another seaplane company.