April 19, 2012 | Vol.42 No. 16

Highway air incidents under investigation

Haines state trooper Josh Bentz has forwarded to the FAA a complaint that a private pilot swooped low over the highway near 33 Mile.

According to a complaint made to the trooper, a white plane with a maroon stripe twice swooped down near the roadhouse, once coming within 10 feet of the road. The incident occurred around 8:15 a.m. April 7.

A pilot whose plane matched the description in the report admitted making the dives to trooper Bentz. “He thought it was a funny, friendly thing. They didn’t take it that way,” the trooper said.

The pilot and the complainant each declined comment this week.

Bentz said the complainant didn’t feel personally threatened by the plane but was concerned about a possible collision. Helicopters that give ski tours regularly land alongside the highway at a spot adjacent to the roadhouse there.

Bentz said the situation may have been aggravated by another plane that landed on the highway near 33 Mile about 10 days before the April 7 incident. In the earlier incident, involving a different pilot and plane, a female pedestrian was forced off the roadway by the plane, the trooper said.

Bentz said he is investigating the earlier incident, but has not yet sent a report on it to the FAA.

A nearby automobile gas pump and a tank of aviation gas are potential hazards in the vicinity of the roadhouse, the trooper said.

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