DEADHORSE, Alaska A man in Deadhorse narrowly survived being struck by a plane last week, as it was taking off from sea ice on the Beaufort Sea. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.
According to an NTSB report, the plane was taking off when it struck the man in the head. While he has not been identified by name, the report lists him as an employee at the Arctic Submarine Laboratory.
The plane was being operated by Bald Mountain Air Service, Inc., of Homer, Alaska. While the two pilots and three passengers on board were not injured, the man taking a photo of the plane from the ice, could have been killed.
"The pedestrian sustained serious injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage," the NTSB said.
The man was flown by medical helicopter to Anchorage for treatment of "serious head and neck injuries because of the collision."
According to the NTSB report, the pilots of the airplane that struck him saw the man standing near the end of the runway. The victim said they had all "agreed that he would position himself alongside the airstrip to get a photo of the airplane's departure."
During take off, something went wrong with that agreed upon plan.
According to the pilots, the plane began to veer slightly to the left during takeoff roll. The injured man said that, during past takeoffs, this did not happen.
The man said he was behind a three or four foot tall snow berm, and the last thing he remembered before being hit by the plane was the sight of the airplane's left wing getting lower to the ground. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the medical helicopter.
Both pilots said they heard a "loud thump" and then put the plane down in an emergency landing, seeing the man lying near a snow berm on the left side of the air strip.
The pilot of the plane told NTSB investigators that the flight's purpose was to "provide ongoing logistical support of ICEX 2018, which involves, in part, U.S. Navy and U.K Royal Navy submarines operating beneath the frozen Arctic Ocean during a 5-week exercise."
Since the Mar. 20 crash, the camp has been relocated off of the sea ice, however the plane, a de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, remains there.
The NTSB said the investigation into the incident is continuing, and a download is pending for the cockpit's voice recorder data.