ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - One person has died in a plane crash near the Wasilla airport, according to Wasilla Police.
A spokesperson for the Wasilla Police Department said a WPD officer was doing a security check at the airport at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday and saw the crash.
The pilot was the only person aboard the aircraft, a home-built, experimental-type plane, according to Clint Johnson of the National Transportation Safety Board.
"An amateur-built, acrobatic-type airplane," he said. "We're still trying to get to the bottom of that, as far as the specifications of the airplane. It's not a common airplane."
The plane falls under the Federal Aviation Administration classification of "experimental," he said.
Johnson, the NTSB chief for Alaska, said there were several witnesses to the crash.
"The airplane took off on runway 4, to the northeast," said Johnson, who added that witnesses "indicated that it maybe stayed in ground effect for just a short amount of time, which was followed by a very, very steep climb."
Ground effect is "the apparent increase in aerodynamic lift experienced by an aircraft when flying near the ground," according to Merriam-Webster, "and observed up to a distance above the ground approximately equal to the wing span."
The left wing apparently dropped, witnesses said, and descended into the accident site nose-first.
Aviation Avenue, a road that accesses the airport, was closed in two places where airplane debris was reportedly scattered across the road. Johnson said cleanup would take a few hours, and from there, the focus would be securing the pieces of the aircraft and taking witness statements.
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