A Hageland Aviation training flight that crashed near Bethel Tuesday night, killing both men on board, remains under investigation Wednesday.
In a Wednesday AST dispatch, troopers identified the victims -- 42-year-old Derrick Cedars of Bethel and 46-year-old Greggory McGee. Their deaths were confirmed by Steve Smith, the marketing director for Ravn Alaska; Hageland is part of the Ravn Air Group.
"The wreckage was located at approximately 6:30 p.m. (Tuesday)," Smith wrote. "Weather conditions were clear and calm at the time of the crash. There are no survivors from the incident."
A National Transportation Safety Board on-scene investigation is expected to begin Thursday, with troopers saying logistical issues prevented them from reaching the crash site Wednesday.
Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB's Alaska section, says much remains to be discovered at the crash site.
“It's very important to be able to look at the accident site, look at the area again," Johnson said. "Control positions, condition of the prop -- there's a lot that goes into the on-scene portion of the accident investigation.”
Investigators will have to work with evidence largely burnt in a post-crash fire.
“It obviously limits our ability to be able to look at that wreckage, and determine from looking at the wreckage," Johnson said. "However, there are still a lot of parts and pieces of the wreckage that have not burned, and that's what they're going to be centering on.”
According to Troopers and Ravn Alaska, the two were on a pilot training flight when the crash occurred 30 miles southeast of Bethel. Weather conditions were clear and calm at the time of the crash.
The wreckage was located at approximately 6:30 p.m. "Troopers arrived on scene and observed a large debris field, and the willows around the crash site were burned," AST wrote. "Troopers were able to locate remains in the wreckage."
Troopers identified the plane as a Cessna 208. Its wreckage was reached by a Blackhawk Helicopter late Tuesday night near a fishing weir by Three Step Mountain. The wreckage contained human remains and there was a burned area around the aircraft and a large debris field.
Smith said the Cessna Caravan was not being used for passenger service at the time of the crash.
Records from the National Transportation Safety Board show that five of the last ten Cessna 208 crashes since 2003 have been operated by Hageland. Prior to Thursday's crash, the most recent was a November 2013 crash near the Yukon River community of St. Mary's that killed four.
Troopers say they will return to the crash site Wednesday to further investigate and to attempt recovery of the men's remains. Next of kin have been notified.
According to a release by Ravn Aviation, Cedars is survived by his wife and two children. McGee is survived by his wife.
[ORIGINAL STORY April 8 7:38 p.m.] National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson says it’s not clear when the Cessna 208 crashed, but responders are en route to the crash site.
“There appears to have been a post-crash fire,” Johnson said.
Peters says the plane was reported overdue to troopers as of 6:10 p.m., with responders taking a helicopter to the crash site in the vicinity of Three Step Mountain Tuesday night.
"Within the hour a local pilot reported to troopers that they had spotted a burning wreckage outside of Bethel," Peters wrote. "An Army (National) Guard Blackhawk with troopers and local fire personnel responded and found a wreckage."
Another Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 crashed during a passenger flight near St. Mary’s on Nov. 29, killing four people and injuring six others. The NTSB is still investigating that crash, but said in a preliminary report in December that witnesses were concerned about the plane before it crashed, with radio attempts to contact the pilot unsuccessful.
Hageland, along with Era Aviation and Frontier Flying Service, was part of a January rebranding effort in which the three entities planned to do business under the Ravn Alaska name. Era’s CEO, Bob Hajdukovich, denied at the time that the new name had any connection with the St. Mary’s crash.
Johnson says investigator Chris Shaver is leaving for Bethel Tuesday and will hopefully reach the scene “first thing in the morning."
According to Smith, Ravn is working with officials to investigate the crash.
"Hageland is gathering information and cooperating with local, state and federal authorities," Smith wrote. "More information will be provided as it becomes available."
Channel 2's Jeff Bridges, Mike Ross, Kortnie Horazdovsky and Matthew Smith contributed information to this story.