1 Dead, 9 Missing in Floatplane Accident Near Seattle

A de Havilland DHC-3 Otter went down Sunday, 18 minutes after takeoff from Friday Harbor (KFHR).

An image showing a small floatplane's flight path near Mutiny Bay, Washington

According to Flightradar24, the last ADS-B signal from the aircraft was received at
22:08 UTC in Mutiny Bay. [Courtesy: Flightradar24]

A floatplane accident in Mutiny Bay, north of Seattle, has left one person dead and 9 others missing, including a child, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The 1967 de Havilland DHC-3 Turbine Otter went down approximately 18 minutes after takeoff from Friday Harbor (KFHR) Sunday afternoon.

The aircraft, N725TH, is registered to Northwest Seaplanes, a charter and sightseeing company located in Seattle. 

According to a tweet from Flightradar24, the last ADS-B signal from the aircraft was received at 22:08 UTC and the aircraft was showing a descent rate 7,744 fpm on its last ping. The altitude normally flown by Turbine Otters along this route is approximately 600 feet above the surface.

The accident came at the end of a busy weekend for the aircraft. Flightaware.com shows the aircraft made several trips from Renton Municipal Airport (KRNT) south of Seattle to the San Juan Islands to the north.

On Sunday, September 5, at 9:33 a.m., the aircraft took off from KRNT bound for Roche Harbor Seaplane Base (W39). The aircraft returned to KRNT, then departed for Windsock (4WA4) on Lopez Island, then to Friday Harbor (KFHR), back to Roche Harbor, returned to Friday Harbor and then launched on the accident flight back to Renton.

The aircraft’s last takeoff was from Friday Harbor at 2:50 p.m. local time. Its last ADS-B report was 18 minutes later near Oak Harbor. The Coast Guard reports the aircraft went down near Whidbey Island, approximately 34 nm northwest of Seattle. The Turbine Otter was halfway to KRNT.

As of 6 p.m., the Coast Guard reported one body -- that of a woman -- had been recovered from the water. A TFR was placed over the area as aircraft joined boats in the search. By 9 p.m. the Coast Guard had multiple vessels and aircraft on the scene. As of Monday morning a team from the National Transportation Safety Board was heading to Washington.

This is a developing story. FLYING will update it as more information becomes available.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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