plane crash

Courtesy of KRSA

A Soldotna man who died in a plane crash Sunday was a dad, business owner and sport fisherman.

Derek Leichliter died while preparing for a hunting trip on Kodiak Island. He was 39. 

At the time of the crash, Leichliter was flying gear out to the remote Saltery Cove ahead of a five-day hunting trip. His plane crashed a few hundred yards from the Kodiak Airport runway around 2 p.m. Sunday.

Alaska State Troopers

Two people are safely back in Anchorage after their plane crashed in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Monday afternoon.

Alaska Legislature

The widow of late Rep. Gary Knopp has filed a counter complaint against High Adventure Air Charters, the Soldotna company whose plane collided with Knopp’s last summer, resulting in seven deaths.

Representatives of four of those passengers filed lawsuits last month against Helen Knopp and the Knopp estate, alleging Knopp was negligent because he was flying his private plane without a valid medical certificate.

Office of Rep. Gary Knopp

Rep. Gary Knopp had impaired vision caused by glaucoma when his private plane collided with a charter plane last summer, according to a medical report released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report is among hundreds of pages of documents released by the board on the mid-air crash that killed Knopp and six others July 31. It's an interim step — the board's final report is still likely months away.

Office of Rep. Gary Knopp

This story was last updated Thursday evening.

The families of four passengers killed in a mid-air crash last summer are suing the estate of Gary Knopp, the former Alaska state representative who was piloting the plane that collided with theirs.

Representatives for Kristen Wright, Caleb Hulsey, MacKay Hulsey and Heather Hulsey, all of South Carolina, filed two separate federal lawsuits today against Knopp’s estate and his wife, Helen Knopp.

Alaska Legislature

Gary Knopp’s name will still appear on the Aug. 18 primary ballot. The Kenai Republican was among the seven killed in a midair collision early Friday morning just outside Soldotna. Knopp was seeking a third term in the state House, against fellow Republicans Ron Gillam and Kelly Wolf. The winner of the primary will face James Baisden, who registered as non-affiliated, in the general election.

Rogers family

A GoFundMe account has been set up to benefit the family of David Rogers, one of the seven people who died Friday morning in a midair collision near Soldotna.

He was a guide at High Adventure Air, which flies out of Longmere Lake, east of Soldotna. Rogers, pilot Greg Bell and four clients from South Carolina were in a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver. Kenai Rep. Gary Knopp, who was running for reelection to his Kenai District 30 seat, was the sole occupant of a Piper PA-12.

Investigators from the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Maddy McElrea works at High Adventure Air and set up the GoFundMe account to cover the expenses of getting Rogers and his dog home Kansas, as well as funeral and other expenses. Rogers had a wife, Rhonda, and three kids. 

“And just really anything that’s going to help them get through these next few months. Because I know that David was kind of the worker in the family for them,” McElrea said.

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.

Representative Gary Knopp of Kenai was reportedly killed in a plane crash outside of Soldotna this morning, along with six other people.
 
Knopp was reportedly flying his own plane, a Piper Aztec, outside of Soldotna when it collided with a de Havilland Beaver around 8:30 a.m. The collision reportedly happened above Mayoni Street between Soldotna and Sterling, about two miles northeast of the Soldotna airport.The Beaver was reportedly owned by High Adventure Air, and co-owner Greg Bell was also confirmed dead in the crash. Knopp flew alone, and the other four people killed were passengers in Bell’s plane. That included Kansas resident David Rogers, who troopers identified as a guide, and South Carolina residents Caleb Hulsey, Heather Hulsey, Makay Hulsey, and Kristen Wright.

A trio of Soldotna residents helped fish something much more exciting than a fish out of East Mackey Lake on Tuesday — a Maule MX-7 single-engine plane on wheeled landing gear that crashed into the water.