The seaplane that died in the Kenai Peninsula crash was supposed to fly to another lake, according to the NTSB.
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The seaplane that died in the Kenai Peninsula crash was supposed to fly to another lake, according to the NTSB.

The seaplane that died in the Kenai Peninsula crash was supposed to fly to another lake, according to the NTSB.
Alaska Dive Search Rescue and Recovery Team members use a remotely operated vehicle as they work to find and recover a plane that crashed June 18, 2024, on Crescent Lake near Moose Pass. (Courtesy of the ADSRRT Facebook page)

The seaplane that crashed and sank on a lake on the Kenai Peninsula last month, killing a senior Air Force officer and a civilian instructor, was supposed to practice touch landings on another lake that same day, according to federal investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday released its preliminary report on the June 18 crash on Crescent Lake near Moose Pass that killed Col. Mark “Tyson” Sletten, 46, and Alaska Float Ratings pilot Paul Kondrat, 41.

Sletten, a veteran fighter pilot who was the director of operations for the U.S. Army Alaska Command, was learning to fly a seaplane from Kondrat when the Piper PA-18 Super Cub crashed and sank. The plane was found nearly 200 feet underwater. The Alaska Dive Search Rescue and Recovery Team helped recover it, with the bodies of both pilots still inside.

According to the report, Alaska Float Ratings told investigators that the planned destination for the training flight was Bench Lake, about 10 miles northeast of Crescent Lake. The plane took off from Trail Lake in Moose Pass at about 12:45 p.m. June 18 and was scheduled to return at 2:30 p.m.

Two tourists saw the Super Cub make a touchdown landing on Lake Crescent just before the plane crashed at about 2 p.m.

“They said that as the airplane continued its approach to the northeast for another touchdown and departure, at approximately 400 (feet) above the water, their attention was drawn to the airplane as it rolled down into a nose-down attitude and began to rotate slightly counterclockwise before impacting the water,” investigators wrote in the report. “One witness recalled seeing the airplane roll slightly upward just prior to impact.”

Clint Johnson, head of the NTSB in Alaska, said Wednesday that Sletten was sitting in front of Kondrat at the time of the crash, but that both the front and back seats of the Super Cub were equipped with flight controls. Investigators are still trying to determine where the plane was traveling before the crash.

“We don’t have any information to determine whether they went directly to Crescent Lake or whether they went to Bench Lake and then came back to Crescent Lake,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the NTSB will rely heavily on tourists’ accounts of the crash. In addition, underwater video of the plane taken by divers and remotely operated vehicles gave investigators a look at the condition of the Super Cub immediately after the crash, before any disruptions caused by rescue operations.

“We have a chance to look at all the control surfaces and analyze that information in detail, so that will be key, especially in this accident,” Johnson said.

The plane was moved to a safe location, Johnson said. NTSB investigators, as well as representatives from airframe manufacturer Piper and engine maker Lycoming, plan to thoroughly examine the wreckage later this month.

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Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter for Alaska Public Media. Contact him atEmail: [email protected].Read more about ChrisHere.