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The identities of two people who went down and survived the crash of an aircraft bound for Port Heiden on Monday afternoon have been reported as pilot and Van Air owner, Matt Vandeventer of Dillingham, and passenger, Gerda Kosbruk of Port Heiden.
King Salmon-based Troopers were notified of the crash of a Van Air Piper Cherokee with two aboard between Pilot Point and Port Heiden at 3:29 pm on Monday afternoon. The Rescue Coordination Center was immediately contacted and, as a result, a United States Coast Guard helicopter was launched from Air Station Kodiak.
Searchers from Pilot Point and Port Heiden took up the ground search in their respective areas in an effort to locate the crash site. The State Trooper aircraft was not able to take up the search because of deteriorating weather conditions.
Within three hours of the initial report of the downed aircraft, the USCG helicopter located the crash site a few miles southeast of Pilot Point and found that both the pilot and lone passenger had survived the crash.
According to reports, the Cherokee had landed in Pilot Point on its way to Port Heiden from Dillingham because of poor weather conditions. Soon after, the flight took off from Pilot Point to continue its flight, but encountered icing conditions shortly after take-off.
The USCG crew evaluated the two, who had suffered injuries, before transporting them to safety and medical attention in Kodiak. The passenger suffered an arm injury, while the pilot suffered back and neck injuries, the USCG reported.
“With the help of local officials and volunteers, we searched and located the downed aircraft on the frozen surface of Ugashik Bay, south of Pilot Point, where we recovered the pilot and passenger from the ice despite driving snow, low visibility and below-freezing temperatures,” said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Huntley, the Air Station Kodiak pilot on the case. “Both survivors had sustained injuries in the crash, and we were also concerned about their exposure to the cold. Luckily, they had filed a flight plan so we knew the approximate area to locate and rescue them as quickly and efficiently as we were able.”