News Release

Plane Crash Near Ptarmigan Lake in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

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Date: August 8, 2022
Contact: Jan Maslen, 907-822-7206

Copper Center, AK—At approximately 3:50 p.m. on August 7, 2022, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) was notified of a plane crash near Ptarmigan Lake in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve after a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) was activated belonging to a Cessna 172. The pilot, Christopher Gates, from Chugiak, Alaska was attempting to take off from a mesa above Ptarmigan Lake when he experienced turbulent winds causing the left wing of the plane to stall and contact the ground. The wing’s contact with the ground in combination with the wind caused the plane to roll and land approximately two hundred yards downslope from the top of the mesa.

Alaska State Troopers and NPS dispatched aircraft to the scene and verified that the pilot and passenger (a minor) were ambulatory but determined that a helicopter rescue was needed. The Alaska Air National Guard at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK responded by dispatching a HH-60G Black Hawk Helicopter to the site around 7:32 p.m. The uninjured, pilot and passenger, were extracted at approximately 10:15 p.m. and transported to the Palmer Airport.

Last updated: August 8, 2022

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Mailing Address:

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

Copper Center , AK 99573


907 822-5234

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