Aniak pilot dies while flying in blowing snow

by Angela Denning-Barnes on November 30, 2011

Photo courtesy of Alaska State Troopers

Aniak pilot, Stephen Hill, died in a plane crash Tuesday night. He is the owner of Inland Aviation and was flying a company Cessna 207 to the Kuskokwim village of Chuathbaluk when he crashed. The 61-year-old pilot was the only one on board. He departed Aniak for the village at about 7 p.m.

The run-way lights activated in Chuathbaluk, according to individual reports, but the Inland plane never arrived. At that time, a significant snow squall had started. The blowing snow made it impossible to land.

Alaska State Troopers were notified that the plane had not landed in the village and was not located in Aniak. A short time later, residents in Chuathbaluk reported hearing a plane stall near the village, but they didn’t know the exact location.

Alaska State Troopers and Wildlife Troopers responded to Chuathbaluk at about 9:15 p.m. There, they teamed up with volunteer searchers from both Aniak and Chuathbaluk. They searched the village and the area downstream. At about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, they found the plane about 3 miles southwest of the village in a heavily forested area. The plane was a total loss, and it appeared that Hill died on impact.

The State Medical Examiners Office was notified and an autopsy was requested. Hill’s next of kin was notified. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were also notified and will be conducting further investigations.

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