An Iditarod Air Force plane crashed Tuesday afternoon during a takeoff from the race’s checkpoint in the town of Iditarod, with Alaska State Troopers reporting that both the pilot and her passenger were uninjured.
According to a Wednesday AST dispatch, Aniak-based Alaska Wildlife Troopers landing in Iditarod at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday noticed a Cessna 185 on its back near a ski strip at the race checkpoint. Troopers learned that the IAF plane’s pilot, 57-year-old Chugiak woman Diane Moroney, had left the scene of the crash before they arrived.
“Investigation revealed that (Moroney) was flying the aircraft as it was taking off from the ski strip after dropping off a load of supplies for the Iditarod Sled Dog race,” troopers wrote. “The aircraft lost altitude during the takeoff and contacted the surface of the Iditarod river. The aircraft flipped over and subsequently was severely damaged.”
Troopers caught up with Moroney and her passenger in McGrath, where they conducted a welfare check on the two.
“Medical treatment was declined and both Moroney and her passenger appeared unhurt from the crash,” troopers wrote.
AST spokesperson Megan Peters says troopers weren’t involved with the incident beyond verifying the safety of the plane’s occupants.
“We are not doing anything else with it,” Peters said.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Larry Lewis, the lead investigator for the crash, says the aircraft has been released and is being taken to Big Lake for inspection. Most of his information on the crash has come through satellite-phone calls, though, and he plans to speak with the people involved when they return from the trail.
"Right now we're waiting for the folks to get closer to town," Lewis said.
Contact Chris Klint