Contradicting earlier reports that the aircraft flown by Anchorage attorney Christopher Cyphers was taking off at the time of the crash that took his life and injured another, the National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report stating that the aircraft was instead coming in for a landing when the accident occurred.
According to the preliminary report from NTSB, at 2:17 am, Cypher’s plane crashed into the trees while attempting to land on runway 7 at the Big Lake Airport 15 minutes after leaving Merrill Field in Anchorage at 2:02 am. Family members told the NTSB Cypher was returning home when the incident occurred after visiting Anchorage for a social visit.
According to the report, “about 0202, an unidentified aircraft, believed to be the accident airplane, departed from the Merrill Field Airport. After departure, the radar track proceeded north, towards the Big Lake Airport. As the track approached the Big Lake Airport, it turned west, and appeared to pass over the airport. After passing over the airport in a westerly direction, the track turns 180 degrees back to the airport. The track subsequently disappeared about the time of the accident.”
Although the detailed wreckage examination is still pending, the NTSB has completed the on-scene documentation and says “The initial impact point was marked by two broken treetops, atop 40-foot tall birch trees, located about 50 feet south of the extended runway centerline and 830 feet from the threshold of runway 7. The airplane impacted in a nose low attitude and came to rest upright in an area of gravel-covered terrain alongside a road adjacent to the airport.”
The NTSB stated in their report that the on-board GPS system was recovered from the wreckage and stated the data on the GPS showed
Although bar patrons at a local Anchorage bar say that Cypher and his companion left the bar at approximately 1:19 am and surveillance footage from the location confirmed that fact, the NTSB cautions to not jump to conclusions. It is still unknown if Cypher had any drinks at the establishment and autopsy reports have not yet been completed.
NTSB as yet has been unable to interview the passenger in the plane as her injuries have precluded that.