Alaska Department of Public Safety

Sabine Poux/KDLL

UPDATE Dec. 5:

Alaska State Troopers said they located the body of Luki Akelkok, ending a multi-day search and rescue effort for the 28-year-old Dillingham man that was hindered by bad weather.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Soldotna resident Jim Cockrell was named the new commissioner for the state Department of Public Safety.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the appointment in Kenai on Tuesday. Cockrell replaces Amanda Price, who resigned in February, citing in part disagreements with the governor over the role of the department in rural communities.

High Adventure Air Charter

On Friday, the central peninsula was shocked when two small planes collided above Soldotna and killed all seven people aboard. Around 8:30 a.m., a deHavilland Beaver from High Adventure Air Charter on Longmere Lake collided with a Piper PA-12, piloted by state house Rep. Gary Knopp of Kenai, sending both planes down around Mayoni Street just east of town. It’s still not entirely clear what happened, but until it is, the community is mourning the loss.

The pilot of the de Havilland Beaver plane, Greg Bell, had been flying for a very long time. Bell, who was 57, was a co-owner of High Adventure Air, a lifelong Soldotna resident. Friends, colleagues and clients remember a cheerful, skilled pilot and a man of faith.