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A serious aircraft/watercraft accident occurred on the Mulchatna River on just after 2pm on Wednesday afternoon when a DHC2 Beaver taking off from that location suffered a loss of altitude caused by a downdraft.
The downdraft caused the Beaver to drop and one of the aircraft’s floats struck a man operating an eighteen-foot skiff on the river. 41-year-old Travis Finkenbinder suffered serious head injuries in the accident.
The pilot, 34-year-old Anchorage man Benjamin Hancock, landed the aircraft after realizing he hit something. Hancock stopped the skiff, that was turning in circles, with his aircraft and rendered assistance to the Trapper Creek man. Then with the aid of another pilot, Hancock assisted in the transport of Finkenbinder to King Salmon so that medical treatment could be administered.
Finkenbinder was later transported from King Salmon to Providence Hospital in Anchorage for further treatment and is reportedly in critical but stable condition.
Both the skiff operator and the aircraft pilot were working together to ferry equipment to another fish camp from that location. The lodge operation is owned by McKinley Capital Management LLC.
The Bristol Bay Police notified the Alaska State Troopers of the incident at 6:15 pm.
The NTSB and FAA were notified of the incident and an investigation into the collision is continuing.
The Mulchatna River is a tributary of the Nushagak River in Bristol Bay. The river is a popular sport fishing location.