Planes collide in midair over Alaska; 5 killed

Early reports suggested that there were two separate crashes but it appears that the two planes collided in mid-air Getty Images

A string of crashes in 2013 and 2014 placed Hageland under close scrutiny, the Dispatch reported, but improvements have been made, and Johnson said the company’s troubles are “in the past”.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating, reports say.

About 15 minutes later, the Alaska State Troopers contacted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center to report a second aircraft was overdue, Olmstead said.

“Basically what it comes down to is see and avoid, however in this case, we don’t know what circumstances lead up to this mid-air collision”, Johnson said.

Johnson says wreckage from both planes landed a considerable distance from each other.

The collision occurred just before 11 a.m. Wednesday, Guard officials said.

KTVA, an affiliate of Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), reported that the victims have been identified, including three on a Cessna 208 Caravan operated by Hageland Aviation Services and two in a Piper PA-18 Super Cub operated by Renfro’s Alaska Adventures.

The National Guard dispatched a Blackhawk helicopter and two flight medics from Bethel around noon to the crash site.

Wrase was flying a Ravn Alaska Cessna 208 Caravan from Russian Mission to the nearby village of Marshall, troopers said. The Super Cub was flown by Montana resident Zach Justin Babat, 44, and carried Haines passenger Jeff Thomas Burruss, 40.

Charles Enoch contributed reporting to this story.