At about 8 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time Monday, a single-engine, turboprop-converted De Havilland Otter crashed near Dillingham, Alaska. Five of nine onboard died, including former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, 86. Among the survivors was ex-NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, 54, and his teenage son Kevin. Both spent the night at the crash site aided by Good Samaritan rescuers. They were airlifted to a hospital in Anchorage with broken bones, but not life-threatening injuries.
The approximately 288-nautical-mile flight originated in Anchorage and was headed for a fishing lodge near Dillingham. The bright red Otter is registered to GCI, a communications company headquartered in Anchorage (certificate issued in 2005). Stevens and O'Keefe were reportedly regular fishing partners, and a family friend said the former senator had been planning a fishing trip with friends and former staff members. O'Keefe's son was also on board.
The 1957 Otter, N455A, was retrofitted with turbine power, making it a DHC-3T. It was equipped with amphibious floats. Dillingham is about 288 nautical miles southwest of Anchorage, and the flight path traverses difficult terrain. An airplane flying overhead spotted the wreckage, launching the recovery effort. Weather in the area was reported as bad, with fog hampering aid efforts.
Stevens is the longest serving Republican senator in history, but was narrowly defeated in the last election following corruption scandals. His convictions on bribery charges were later overturned. O'Keefe served as NASA Administrator from 2001-2005 and currently serves as head of EADS North America, a subsidiary of the European aerospace giant, which is locked in competition with Boeing for a huge Air Force contract to replace its aerial refueling tankers.