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A Sitka man died this morning when his small plane hit a hangar on takeoff at the Juneau Airport.
The 5:15 a.m. crash took the life of Anton T. Bowers, 69, of Sitka. Bowers was the only person aboard the Cessna 172, which suffered substantial damage in the crash.
The four-passenger plane took off and banked left before crashing into the Silver Bay Aviation hangar, said Alaska State Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson. No one was in the hangar at the time, Wilkinson said.
"The accident is under investigation," said Patty deLa Bruere, airport public information officer.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and have taken over investigation of the incident. Scott Erickson of the NTSB's Anchorage office arrived at the Juneau Airport about 9:30 a.m. to begin his investigation. He had no comments by the Empire's midday deadline.
Bowers, who single, was a long-time longliner in the Sitka area, said Sandy Poulson, city editor of the Sitka Sentinel. She said he was known for writing letters to the editor.
Although fog settled above Gastineau Channel about 7:30 this morning, there was nothing in the weather at the airport at the time of the crash that should have contributed to an accident, said Richard Blizzard, hydro-meteorologist technician with the National Weather Service.
The official weather service observation closest to the time of the accident was taken at 4:53 a.m. At that time, winds were calm and visibility was five miles. There was mist, or light fog, and a thick bank of stratus clouds off to the east. Nevertheless, visibility east was three to five miles. The temperature was 39, which means icing was unlikely.
Conditions generally were good for flying, Blizzard said.
"I don't see anything in this observation that should cause a pilot to have a problem," he said.
Two airport crash rescue trucks and an ambulance staffed by firefighter-emergency medical technicians responded to the crash site.
Bowers' relatives were notified of his death by late morning.