This Aug. 5, 2021, photo provided by Lee LaFollette shows a de Havilland Beaver aircraft departing the Port of Ketchikan, Alaska. Foggy, reduced-visibility conditions have delayed efforts to recover the wreckage of a sightseeing plane that crashed in southeast Alaska, killing six people. Clint Johnson, chief of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska region, says the agency had hoped to recover the wreckage Sunday. But he says those efforts were called off due to poor conditions. He says the crew planned to try again on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. (Lee LaFollette via AP)

This Aug. 5, 2021, photo provided by Lee LaFollette shows a de Havilland Beaver aircraft departing the Port of Ketchikan, Alaska. Foggy, reduced-visibility conditions have delayed efforts to recover the wreckage of a sightseeing plane that crashed in southeast Alaska, killing six people. Clint Johnson, chief of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska region, says the agency had hoped to recover the wreckage Sunday. But he says those efforts were called off due to poor conditions. He says the crew planned to try again on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. (Lee LaFollette via AP)

Reduced visibility hampers Alaska plane wreckage effort

Foggy and reduced visibility conditions delayed efforts to recover the wreckage.

By Becky Bohrer

Associated Press

Foggy and reduced visibility conditions delayed efforts to recover the wreckage of a sightseeing plane that crashed in southeast Alaska, killing six people, a National Transportation Safety Board official said.

Clint Johnson, chief of the agency’s Alaska region, said efforts to reach the site Sunday were called off due to poor conditions. The team planned to try again on Monday, he said.

“However long it takes, we will wait for the weather and wait patiently for it. But we’re going to get this done,” he said.

The wreckage was in a rugged, steep area that is heavily forested, at 1,800 feet to 2,000 feet “up on the side of a mountain,” he said. The site is about 12 miles northeast of the small city of Ketchikan, Johnson said.

“Very challenging conditions,” Johnson said, adding that the wreckage would have to be removed by helicopter.

He described conditions at the accident site as having low reduced visibility and fog.

Investigators also were conducting interviews in Ketchikan, he said.

The flight was returning to Ketchikan on Thursday from a tour of Misty Fjords National Monument when it crashed, Johnson said.

[Coast Guard: 6 dead in sightseeing plane crash]

The plane carried five passengers and the pilot. The Alaska State Troopers identified the pilot as Rolf Lanzendorfer, 64, of Cle Elum, Washington.

Troopers identified the passengers as Mark Henderson, 69, and Jacquelyn Komplin, 60, both of Napa, California; Andrea McArthur, 55, and Rachel McArthur, 20, both of Woodstock, Georgia; and Janet Kroll, 77, of Mount Prospect, Illinois.

Troopers and Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad members reached the crash scene in a chartered helicopter Saturday afternoon and recovered the bodies.

Kathleen Grayson, Henderson’s sister, told the Napa Valley Register newspaper that Henderson and Komplin had sent messages during their trip “talking about how gorgeous” Alaska was.

“They were having so much fun,” she said.

Henderson was retired but had worked as a public defender, while Komplin was a registered nurse and instructor at Pacific Union College, the newspaper reported.

Komplin coordinated a wellness program associated with Meals on Wheels for Community Action of Napa Valley, the group’s executive director, Drene Johnson, told The Associated Press. She said Komplin was excited about the trip.

“We were all wishing her well, and that’s what’s so hard for us to comprehend is, now she’s gone,” she said, describing Komplin as “one of a kind.”

One recent post on Kroll’s Facebook page showed Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau in the background. Another was captioned: “I finally made it to Alaska! Hooray!”

Davis McArthur said his mother, Andrea McArthur, and sister, Rachel McArthur, were on a “girls’ trip” before his sister returned to college. He said Andrea McArthur was a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines and that the two women loved traveling and adventure.

Andrea McArthur “had a heart of gold,” he said, adding later: “If there was a need, just know it was going to get met. If you needed somebody to talk to, she was that shoulder to lean on.”

“You could see Jesus in her,” he said.

Rachel McArthur was “always wanting to help out” and was independent and strong, he said.

Delta Air Lines released a statement Sunday saying that it was “mourning the loss of one of our own and our hearts and thoughts go out to the many who knew, worked with and admired her.”

Lanzendorfer’s Linkedin profile said he had worked for Southeast Aviation as a pilot since May 2015. Bri Kelly, a media contact for Southeast Aviation, did not provide any details about the pilot’s tenure with the company and directed questions related to the accident to Johnson.

Johnson said Lanzendorfer was the pilot in a July 9 incident in which a Southeast Aviation plane hit an inlet buoy on departure near Coffman Cove and flipped. Alaska State Troopers previously reported the pilot was the only person on board and that no injuries were reported.

Johnson said that’s just “a piece of information that we’re putting on the pile” as investigators probe Thursday’s crash.

The Seattle Times reported that Lanzendorfer had been flying commercial floatplanes for more than 40 years and was described by Clyde Carlson, founder of Washington-based Northwest Seaplanes, as “an excellent pilot.”

Holland America Line confirmed the five passengers on the flight had been traveling on the company’s ship Nieuw Amsterdam, which was nearing the end of seven-day Alaska cruise.

Ketchikan is a popular stop for cruise ships visiting Alaska, and sightseeing excursions, such as those to Misty Fjords National Monument, are among options for cruise passengers exploring the area while they are off the ship.

The cruise line said the excursion the passengers were on was not sold by Holland America Line.

Southeast Aviation, in a statement Thursday, said it was cooperating with the agencies involved.

“All of us share in the anguish of this tragic incident, and our prayers go out to all affected,” the statement said.

The plane’s emergency beacon was activated about 11:20 a.m. on Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard has said.

A helicopter company reported seeing wreckage on a ridgeline in the search zone, and Coast Guard crew members found the wreckage around 2:40 p.m. They reported no survivors, the Coast Guard said.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

Participants in a pro-choice abortion rally gather outside the Governor’s Residence on Saturday to demand a pro-life flag flying at the entrance be taken down. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Pro-choice abortion protesters march to Governor’s Residence to demand removal of pro-life flag

Rally on second anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision also focuses on fall election.

Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mucking, trucking, chucking and yukking it up at Juneau Gold Rush Days

Logging competitions, live music, other events continue Sunday at Savikko Park.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, June 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
State judge upholds most fines against group seeking repeal of Alaska ranked choice voting

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled that opponents of Alaska’s ranked… Continue reading

Joshua Midgett and Kelsey Bryce Riker appear on stage as the emcees for MixCast 2023 at the Crystal Saloon. (Photo courtesy Juneau Ghost Light Theatre)
And now for someone completely different: Familiar faces show new personas at annual MixCast cabaret

Fundraiser for Juneau Ghost Light Theatre on Saturday taking place amidst week of local Pride events

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read