The Homer News, a feisty small-town newspaper in the Alaska community at the end of the Kenai Peninsula, has obtained moment-of-impact photos of the Fourth-of-July holiday airplane crash involving Alaska media-lebrity Alice Rogoff.
The Alaska Dispatch News owner and publisher crashed her single-engine Cessna 206 into Halibut Cover after a blown landing on the eve of the Fourth of July. Luckily, no one was injured.
Eyewitnesses said the floatplane came in for a landing, but hit the water so hard it bounced 40 – or 50-feet in the air. The pilot, at that point, tried to regain altitude, but clipped an eagle tree.
“The plane hit the water hard and bounced up about forty feet, turned 90 degrees and almost touch(ed) the water with it’s left wing as everyone on the boat was screaming in horror watching the event in slow-motion. The plane wobbled up, hit an eagle nest tree trimming off the top (the eagle saw the plane coming and flew up just in time to avoid being hit), narrowly missing a house and toppled into the water fifty yards from the fully loaded tourist boat, Danny J, that was coming from Homer,” blogger Scott Fredrickson reported on his website.
Fredrickson posted a number of photos of the aftermath of the crash and a video of the recovery of the airplane, but the entire post has since been removed from his website. Fredrickson did not respond to email or phone messages.
The Homer News said it obtained its photos from Stephanie Migdal, a passenger on a tour boat docking at the cove. The photos show the float separating from the steeply climbing airplane just after it hits the tree, and the float then hitting the water near a rocky point with a huge splash as the plane levels of and tilts to the right.
Seconds later, the aircraft crashed into the water.
The plane “hit the water between the Danny J tour boat and the south shore,” reporter Michael Armstrong wrote. “The dock to the Saltry is about 300 feet from the south shore. The Saltry is a popular restaurant where the Danny J moors on its tour to Halibut Cove. Rogoff’s plane crashed about 5:50 p.m., about the same time the Danny J was preparing to dock at the Saltry.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash. A preliminary report is expected in about a week.
Rogoff has attracted national attention for her Alaska Bush flying. Reporting for the Washington Post from Nome on the Bering Sea Coast last year, Julia Duin wrote, “This was Alice Rogoff, 63, wife of billionaire David Rubenstein and a former Washington business executive turned owner and publisher of Alaska’s largest newspaper. Rogoff had spent nine days piloting her single-engine Cessna 206 from village to village as her reporters covered 70-plus mushers crossing the state.”
Halibut Cove is a tight-knit community of about 75 year-round residents about 120 miles southwest of Anchorage. The population swells in the summer season. Rogoff is leasing a summer retreat there. She was visiting over the Fourth of July holiday for the wedding of former Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and the birthday of former state Sen. Clem Tillion, an iconic Alaska politician.
After the crash, one of Rogoff’s attorneys reported in a prepared statement that, “Tillion’s 91st birthday party went on as planned and Ms. Rogoff was delighted to attend.”
Federal Aviation Administration records show Rogoff obtained her pilots license in September of 2013. She took up flying after moving to the 49h state from the nation’s capital.
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The last torpedo bomber attack in Alaska was at the battle of Attu in 1943. Then 74 years later the Alaska Dispatch mounts a kamikaze attack on Halibut Cove and drops a torpedo from a float plane.
That’s a prize-winning photo right there!