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Alaska Mid-Air Collision Kills Seven

Two planes collided on Friday. The pilots were well-known Alaskans.

A screencap of WSPA 7News coverage of the incident shows a damaged plane.
A screencap of WSPA 7News coverage of the incident shows a damaged plane.

In the second high-profile accident of its kind in Alaska in the past year, a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser and a De Havilland Beaver collided in mid-air on Friday, killing all seven aboard the two planes, six in the Beaver and the solo pilot in the PA-12. One passenger survived the crash but later died en route to the hospital. Local news sources are reporting that several people on the ground witnessed the collision and the aftermath. The crash took place near Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula.

The pilot who was killed in the Super Cruiser was Alaska State Representative and Kenai resident Gary Knopp (63). The pilot of the De Havilland was Gary Bell, whose family owns and runs the Soldotna-based charter company High Adventure Air Charter. The five who also perished in the charter plane were David Rogers (40), a professional wildlife guide, and South Carolina residents, including four family members, Heather Hulsey, 25, Caleb Hulsey, 26, Mackay Hulsey, 24, and Kirstin Wright, 23.

The planes both came down within yards of the Sterling Highway, which runs east and west to the north of the Soldotna Airport (SXQ). Several local residents posting on social media said that the two planes might have been inbound/outbound from the airport.

The NTSB and FAA are investigating the crash.


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