Pilot's body recovered from mountain crash site
A team revisiting the site of a Grant Aviation plane crash Monday near Chignik Lake recovered the body of the pilot and sole occupant on Thursday.
Noreen Price, the National Transportation Safety Board's lead investigator on the wreck that killed 54-year-old Gabriele Cianetti, said his remains were retrieved by three members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group. They were flown to the Cessna 208B Caravan's crash site, about 8 miles south of Chignik Lake on the Alaska Peninsula, on board a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak.
Cianetti's plane went down Monday afternoon during a flight from Port Heiden to Perryville, the Coast Guard said this week. A responding Jayhawk that evening was able to lower a crew member to the site — at an altitude of 3,000 feet in mountainous terrain — who confirmed Cianetti was dead. But plans for a recovery mission were delayed by cloudy weather.
Price and Alaska State Troopers had been slated to accompany Thursday's flight, but she said the Coast Guard wasn't able to bring them due to concerns over the chopper's range.
"Because of the long distance between (Air Station Kodiak) and the accident site, the Coast Guard limited the team on board to three members," Price said. "Because the aircraft was in such a hazardous location, the Mountain Rescue Group really needed three people who had the technical training to do that kind of work."
The Jayhawk flight reached the crash site at about 2:45 p.m., Price said, and the team conducted the recovery and took photos until 7 p.m. The chopper then continued on to Sand Point.
Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said work was under way to transport Cianetti's remains to Anchorage for an autopsy at the State Medical Examiner Office.
The NTSB's preliminary report on the crash should be released next week, Price said.
This story first appeared in Alaska Dispatch News and is reprinted here with permission.