Recovery Operation From Alaska Crash Deemed Too Dangerous

Landscape and condition of the wreck create a high-risk environment.

alaska sightseeing crash
NPS worries the recovery risks additional injuries.National Park Service

The National Park Service has declared that it is too dangerous to recover the wreck of a sightseeing plane that crashed in Alaska earlier this month, according to a news release from the organization. On August 4, a deHavilland Beaver (DHC-2), operated by the "flightseeing" company, K2 Aviation, crashed about 14 miles southwest of the summit of Denali National Park killing the four passengers and the single pilot.

The NPS has determined that a recovery operation will be too hazardous because it would exceed the service’s three primary risk factors of severity, probability, and exposure. “Due to the unique challenges posed by the steepness of terrain, the crevasse, avalanche hazard and the condition of the aircraft, NPS has determined that recovery of the deceased and/or removal of the aircraft exceed an acceptable level of risk in all three factors and will not be attempted.”

The NPS worries that the site of the wreckage could be a fatal terrain trap even in a small avalanche. The aircraft is split in half behind the wing, with the tail section actively pulling the entire airplane towards a glacier 3,500 feet blow it. Furthermore, more than two and a half feet of snow has fallen on the wreck, which has loaded the 45-degree slope above the plane.