Local News

Vintage Military Plane Crashes in Alaska After Reported Fire Onboard

After one of the pilots reported a fire, a vintage military aircraft that was scheduled to supply heating oil to a remote Alaska Native hamlet crashed outside of Fairbanks. Tragically, both pilots perished in the collision, leaving a large trail of wreckage in their wake.

3,200 gallons of heating oil were loaded onto the C54D-DC aircraft, which took off from Fairbanks and was headed for the settlement of Kobuk. The pilot reported an in-flight emergency—a fire aboard—shortly after takeoff. The airplane lost touch despite attempts to return to Fairbanks International Airport.

About seven miles west of Fairbanks, the jet crashed into a steep slope, then skidded down to the Tanana River’s bank and burst into flames. There are no survivors at the accident site, and challenging terrain and bad weather have hampered recovery attempts.

Witnesses reported hearing explosions and seeing the plane catch fire before crashing into the ground. The catastrophic crash was caused by an engine explosion that was caught on camera.

The historic aircraft has a rich history of military service and civilian ownership, extending back around 80 years. Alaska Air Fuel was the aircraft’s owner at the time of the crash, and the National Transportation Safety Board will examine the debris to ascertain what caused the accident.

The accident serves as a reminder of the difficulties in providing basic supplies to isolated Alaskan towns as well as the inherent risks involved with aviation travel in the area.

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