ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Six passengers from a cruise ship docked in Ketchikan, Alaska and signed up for a sightseeing flight but ended up going for a swim.
The passengers and a pilot for Ketchikan-based Alaska Seaplane Tours had to swim for their lives Sunday afternoon when the floatplane crashed and sank in a remote mountain lake in Misty Fjords National Monument. Alaska State Troopers described their injuries as minor.
Clint Johnson, head of the National Transportation Safety Board office in Alaska, said the crash of the De Havilland Beaver DHC-2 occurred under clear skies on Big Goat Lake about 46 miles (74 kilometers) northeast of Ketchikan. Troopers initially said the crash was 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Ketchikan.
"The little that we know, subject to change, is that one of the wings struck the water just after takeoff and the airplane ended up in the water and unfortunately sank," Johnson said.
Alaska Seaplane Tours on its website offers bear- and glacier-viewing trips and fishing trips out of Ketchikan. The website claimed a perfect safety record since the company's conception in 1999. A man answering the company's phone Monday asked who was calling, said "no comment," and hung up.
Misty Fjords National Monument covers 3,347 square miles (8,669 sq. kilometers) at the tip of the Alaska Panhandle. It's the largest wilderness area in the Tongass National Forest.
The monument is named for sheer granite walls along ocean bays that are frequently lined with low clouds in the nation's northernmost rainforest.
Big Goat Lake is a major "flight-seeing" attraction. The mountain lake at 1,775 feet (541 meters) is the source of Big Goat Falls, a spectacular waterfall that drops 800 feet (244 meters) into forest.
Misty Fjords was the scene of a fatal sightseeing crash on June 25, 2015. A de Havilland DHC-3 Otter operated by Promech Air Inc. crashed into mountainous terrain about 24 miles (39 kilometers) from Ketchikan, killing the pilot and eight passengers.
The NTSB concluded that the crash was due to pilot error, Promech's culture and its lack of a formal safety plan. The pilot had continued to fly under visual flight rules when weather called for instrument rules, the NTSB said.
In the crash Sunday the pilot was Matthew Perron, 30, of Ketchikan.
Troopers list two passengers from Germany: Tim Friedrich, 40, and Catrin Fredrich, 36.
The other four passengers were from California: Robert Grover, 63, Debra Grover, 60, Nicole Grover, 30, and Jonathan James, 36.
Hometowns of the passengers were not released.
They were flown to Ketchikan, treated by emergency responders and transported to a hospital, troopers said.