The family of a pilot killed in a Monday plane crash that left one Big Lake man dead and another badly injured remember him as a cancer survivor devoted to his relatives.
"He loved Alaska, he loved his family, he was a good family man," said Susan Stump, sister of her late brother Kenneth Whedbee.
The 66-year-old Whedbee, known by his family as Mike, died after an experimental Zenith 701 airplane he was piloting crashed near Big Lake. Passenger Jason Scott, 37, was wounded in the crash.
"He has a really nice place with Alaskan toys, four-wheelers and stuff like that,” Stump said. “He took my son and his friend out four-wheeling a little bit and we had moose stew.”
Stump and her son James spent part of the weekend with Whedbee.
"One of the quotes that my uncle told me on Saturday before he passed is, ‘Live life where you’re at,’” James Stump said. “It's up to you to be happy where you are, no matter where you go to work or school.''
Whedbee had a unique appreciation for living in the moment, even in the midst of a battle with cancer he won shortly before the plane crash.
“I miss him every day, even though it hasn't been a whole 24 hours yet, and I still miss him,” James Stump said. “I just wish I could have spent more time with him when I was younger.”
National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson Clint Johnson says the on-scene investigation into the crash is complete. The wreckage of the plane will be removed from the area for examination, and it may be six to eight months before the cause of the crash is known.
Jason Scott, the plane's passenger, is still in the hospital. According to family members, he is scheduled to have more surgery later this week.
Contact Adam Pinsker