ANCHORAGE — A pilot who managed to skillfully steer a stalled small plane into some alder bushes and land without any injuries would have needed “nerves of steel” for the risky maneuver, a federal investigator said.
The Cessna 206 float plane had just taken off Thursday afternoon from a lake when it lost power, said Larry Lewis, a National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator in Anchorage.
It ended up in a swampy area of alder bushes about 200 feet from Judd Lake, and the pilot and two passengers were able to walk to the water where they were picked up by another floatplane, said the plane’s owner.
“They had no option but to descend into the trees,” said Lewis. “If he puts it in the trees and he didn’t injure anybody that is a really good job.”
No one was injured, but the six-seat Regal Air plane was heavily damaged when it went down near the lake, which is about 50 miles northwest of Anchorage. Regal Air owner Mike Laughlin said the plane was headed to Anchorage.
“The engine completely quit,” Laughlin said. “The pilot did an excellent job of getting the aircraft to the ground.”
The NTSB would not release the name of the pilot as a matter of policy. Laughlin also refused to say who was piloting the plane, citing the pending investigation. He said it was Regal Air’s first accident.
Lewis said these types of situations can end badly, especially if the pilot pulls up on the stick as the aircraft nears the point of impact. That move, while instinctual because the pilot doesn’t want to fly the plane into something, tends to make things worse, Lewis said.
The best thing was to try to keep flying the plane and hope for the best, Lewis said.
“The pilot kept flying the airplane and that is tough to do in that situation,” Lewis said. “That takes nerves of steel.”