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ANCHORAGE, ALASKA-The pilots involved in the mid-air collision north of Nightmute last Friday were boy friend/girlfriend according to reports. They had been communicating prior to the crash and had been flying together towards Bethal at the time of the incident.
Kristen Sprague, 26, was piloting an Cessna 207 for Ryan Air on Friday. Scott Veal, 24, was piloting a Cessna 208 caravan. They had been communicating on the radio as they left from different villages, Spague from Tununuk, Veal from Tooksuk Bay.
According to Craig Johnson, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, the two pilots met up on the way back to Bethel at an altitude of 1,200 feet above sea level. Some maneuvering took place and the pilots lost track of each other. As per his report, Sprague transmitted on the radio that she couldn’t see veal any longer. That is when the collision occurred, Veal crashed into Sprague’s right wing almost severing the wing entirely.
After the impact, the Caravan, piloted by Veal, passed under the smaller craft, then moved away on the left, spiralling to the ground, where it burst into flames on impact. This occurred slightly after 1:30 pm. This reported time was different than the time reported by Alaska State Troopers.
The impact spread bits of wreckage over an area of approximately one half mile, with not much remaining of the aircraft other than the tail section.
Sprague, after impact, was able to maneuver her damaged aircraft down to the tundra, where she executed an emergency landing. Ryan Air’s President stated, “We’re sad about the results with the other aircraft but pleased with what Kristen was able to do to get down safely.”
Johnson reports that the Cessna 207 piloted by Sprague had a Capstone system installed on board. That system collects flight data as well as provides terrain information to the pilot. NTSB has yet to investigate the data contained on that equipment.