Weekend plane crash investigation proceeds; no mayday or pan-pan reported

Investigators say they still don’t know what caused a single-engine plane to crash after takeoff in Kodiak, killing its pilot. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is combing through evidence from last Sunday’s crash near the Kodiak Municipal airport. The NTSB’s Clint Johnson says the wrecked kit Wag-Aero 2+2 craft was reassembled in a hangar, and investigators are examining the engine and power systems for clues.

“We were able to harvest some parts and pieces, electronic parts and pieces. Those pieces are being sent to our vehicle recorder lab. And we’re waiting for the results on those downloads,” Johnson said.

Derek Leichliter, the pilot, was killed in the crash. He was 39. Leichliter had replaced the wings and engine of his aircraft six months prior to the crash. He flew frequently to remote locations to hunt and fish and was reportedly heading to Saltery Cove, to prepare a hunting camp for himself and a friend on Kodiak Island. Johnson said that no mayday or pan-pan call was reported or recorded by local radio operators and the plane is believed to have crashed within a minute of being airborne.

A preliminary report is expected to be completed by NTSB investigators later this month, which is an overview of basic information about the flight. A more detailed report will be completed in about a year’s time, which will be followed shortly after by details on the probable cause of the crash.

KDLL’s Sabine Poux contributed reporting from Kenai.

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