Alaskan plane crash: 10 killed at Soldotna Airport

Light aircraft bursts into flames leaving pilot and all nine passengers on board dead

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The Independent US

A plane has crashed and burst into flames at an airport in Alaska, killing all 10 people on board, US officials said.

The light aircraft is believed to have been taking off from Soldotna Airport near Anchorage at the time, and though firefighters arrived quickly on the scene nobody could be saved.

The victims were yet to be identified, but a spokesman for family-run Rediske Air Inc, which operated the flight, told local media its president Walter Rediske was piloting the plane.

Air taxis are a commonly-used form of transport across the large, sparsely-populated state, but this is the worst civil aviation disaster to occur in Alaska for 25 years.

“We saw the plume immediately when we left the station,” fire Capt. Lesley Quelland told Anchorage Daily News on Sunday evening.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson said airport staff saw the plane taxiing towards the airport’s single runway at around 11.20am on Sunday, but nobody saw it actually take off.

Capt. Quelland said there were believed to be no eyewitnesses to the crash itself.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was a de Havilland DHC3 Otter, which flies at about half the altitude of large commercial airliners.

It took firefighters around 10 minutes to douse the flames engulfing the fixed-wing craft, after which it was apparent much of the plane had burned away.

This was the state’s worst civilian plane accident since November 1987, when a full 18-passenger Ryan Air Beechcraft 1900C crashed in Homer, Alaska, killing everyone on board.

The Soldotna crash comes just a day after a far larger Asiana flight crashed at San Francisco's airport, and two days after an oil-bearing freight train devastated the centre of Lac-Megantic in Canada.