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Federal regulators release preliminary report on fatal crash near Bethel; cause still unclear


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A small commercial plane was flying at about 3,400 feet when it crashed near Bethel, killing the two pilots on board, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Investigators still don't know what caused the Cessna 208 operated by Hageland Aviation to go down on April 8 during a training flight, KYUK ( reported Thursday.

Investigators were digging through data sent from the plane that crashed in clear, calm weather.

"It would appear there was a deviation in altitude, probably two different deviations," NTSB investigator Clint Johnson said. "Immediately after that the plane went into a very, very steep dive, a very rapid dive and continued all the way until ground impact."

Killed in the crash were Derrick Cedars, 42, of Bethel and Greggory McGee, 46, of Anchorage. No other people were on board.

Responders found the remains of the men in the burned wreckage near Three Step Mountain, about 30 miles southeast of Bethel. Investigators say the wreckage traveled about 180 feet before stopping in heavy brush. Much of the fuselage burned in a post-crash fire.

The plane was not equipped with cockpit voice or data recorders, and it was not required to have those systems. The wreckage is in Bethel and will be transported to Anchorage.

A final NTSB report is expected in about a year. NTSB investigations look at weather, pilot actions and mechanics as possible causes of crashes.

The NTSB also is investigating the November crash of another Hageland Aviation Cessna 208. Four people were killed and six others injured in the crash of that commuter flight outside the southwest Alaska village of Saint Marys. A preliminary NTSB report said the plane had diverted its course because of deteriorating weather.

Hageland Aviation is part of Ravn Alaska.

Information from: KYUK-AM,

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