Update: Pilot, passenger on downed aircraft near Pilot Point evaced Monday night

Jan 16, 2017

Update: Both pilot, passenger survived, successfully rescue by Coast Guard and transported for medical care Monday night.

Update: U.S. Coast Guard helicopter located downed aircraft and is preparing pilot and passenger for medical transport.

Original: Pilot, passenger believed alive but injured after Van Air chartered flight between Pilot Point, Port Heiden went down Monday afternoon. Passenger been able to communicate by cell phone. US Coast Guard enroute from Kodiak.

Authorities said the Cherokee crashed approx. four miles south of Pilot Point, in the vicinity of the King Salmon River, shortly after takeoff.
Credit Ben Matheson / Carto / Geographic Information Network of Alaska

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Update: State troopers confirmed at 9:00 p.m. Monday that both the pilot and passenger on board the Piper Cherokee that went down near Pilot Point had survived and had been transported away from the scene by the US Coast Guard. The aircraft, which was reported down around 3:30 p.m., was located by the USCG a little past 6:00 p.m., and the survivors were transported away by helicopter a little more than an hour after that. Both the passenger, Gerda Kosbruk, and the pilot, Matt Vandeventer, were injured.

The flight originated in Dillingham and was taking Kosbruk home to Port Heiden. State troopers say Vandeventer landed in Pilot Point due to inclement weather before attempting to continue on. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, a few miles southeast of Pilot Point. From the scene, the passenger relayed to authorities that the plane had iced up after takeoff and they crashed. Witnesses in Pilot Point reported hearing the plane go down, according to AST.

Update as of 6:45 p.m.:

Alaska State Troopers report that the passenger and pilot were found on scene of the downed Piper Cherokee aircraft, and that the U.S. Coast Guard crew is preparing both for medical transport. State troopers believe the aircraft is located approximately a few miles southeast of the village, near the King Salmon River. The nature of the injuries has not been reported. The helicopter crew has trained medical personnel onboard.

The flight had taken off from Pilot Point towards Port Heiden when it crashed. The passenger, who was able to contact others by phone afterwards, reported the plane had iced up shortly after takeoff.

Original story below:

KDLG:  As of 5:15 p.m. Monday, Alaska State Troopers believe the two people onboard an aircraft that went down near Pilot Point are alive but injured, and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter is enroute on a rescue mission from Kodiak.

"We received a report at the King Salmon post that an air taxi had just crashed in the vicinity of Pilot Point," said Sgt. Luis Nieves. "It looks like the aircraft is an air taxi owned and operated by Van Air out of Dillingham. The aircraft appeared to be enroute to Port Heiden when the aircraft iced up and crashed."

State troopers say the pilot is Matt Vandeventer of Dillingham, and the passenger is Gerda Kosbruk of Port Heiden. The information was relayed to the troopers by a person contacted by Kosbruk after the plane had crash landed. Kosbruk relayed that the "aircraft had iced up and crashed," Nieves said. "The passenger then followed up with texts stating that they’re injured, that she believes she has a broken leg and that the pilot may be seriously injured as well, but that they’re both alive."

According to Sgt. Nieves, the Coast Guard launched a helicopter out of Air Station Kodiak, and a ground search effort led by the Pilot Point VPSO was also enroute. Visibility was less than one quarter mile and had grounded a state trooper aircraft from joining the search.

"Right now we are trying to get to the scene as fast as possible," said Sgt. Nieves. He said witnesses in Pilot Point reported hearing the plane go down.

Vandeventer pilots a Piper PA-32, a single engine Cherokee that seats six.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.