The pilot and sole occupant of a small private plane died Thursday afternoon when the aircraft crashed on the south end of Gravina Island near Blank Inlet.
According to Alaska State Troopers, the pilot was 68-year-old Michael Nash of Wrangell. He was flying a PA-24 single-engine, wheeled, Comanche aircraft.
Coast Guard spokeswoman Amanda Norcross says the plane was reported overdue by Ketchikan Airport Flight Service at 3:04 p.m. The last communication with the plane was around 2:30 p.m. The plane was near Blank Inlet at that time.
The Coast Guard sent out small boats from Station Ketchikan, and a search and rescue helicopter from Air Station Sitka. Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad crews were mobilized, along with other first responders. KVRS crews located the crashed plane about 400 feet up the north side of Judy Hill. Nash was found dead inside the plane.
Alaska State Troopers coordinated the search efforts.
According to a Ketchikan Gateway Borough news release, the National Transportation Safety Board will travel to Ketchikan Friday to start an investigation.
This was the fourth plane crash in the Ketchikan area this summer, and the third that involved fatalities.
One of those crashes involved two floatplanes that collided in mid-air on May 13, killing six people. On May 20, a floatplane with two people on board crashed in the water off Metlakatla. Both people died in that crash. Then on June 27, a floatplane with five people on board flipped while landing in the water off Ketchikan. Everyone survived that accident.
This report has been updated with additional information.