National Transportation Safety Board investigators have started piecing together the cause of the weekend helicopter crash that killed William Zeman, of Juneau.
Bad weather prevented a visit to the accident site until Tuesday. Senior Air Safety Investigator Clint Johnson says the ERA helicopter went down about six miles southwest of Iliamna.
“We spent most of the day there, documented the accident scene and we are in the process of working with the operator to get all the parts and pieces and the wreckage moved back into Iliamna,” Johnson said. “Then the engine and some other parts and pieces will be shipped to Anchorage and we will be doing more testing as time goes on.”
He says the helicopter engine will eventually be sent to an NTSB lab in Texas for testing of possible mechanical issues.
The 66-year-old pilot was the only person onboard the helicopter. Johnson said Zeman had been headed to Anchorage and had made refueling stops in Unalakleet and Bethel. He planned to spend the night in Iliamna.
ERA’s GPS and web-based tracking system received a final signal from the helicopter about 8 p.m. Saturday. Searchers found the wreckage on Sunday. Zeman’s body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Anchorage for an autopsy.
While the weather at the time of the crash is not known, Johnson says snow showers had been moving through the area. He says NTSB meteorologists are doing a weather study.
Johnson expects to issue a preliminary report in the next few days, but the cause of the crash likely will not be known for several months.
Zeman was the company’s most senior pilot and had been with ERA Helicopters for 39 years.
- During a brief layover Wednesday in Ketchikan on her way to Sitka, Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski talked about the state’s Republican primary campaign, and about the presidential election.
- More Alaskans are driving electric cars. The same is true for California, Oregon and Washington state. But many people continue to consider the vehicles as too small, difficult to use and no more than a novelty.
- Master Gardener Ed Buyarski reminds us to ventilate our greenhouse, harvest our garlic and raspberries, deadhead any finished flowers, and eradicate all slugs.
- AT&T's announced plans to upgrade the network by summer of 2016 have stalled. And people in Skagway have noticed, as they slog through another summer of cell phone problems.