Beech 1900 down in Alaska - 1/22/2010

2 missing in crash of plane off Sand Point

Published: January 22nd, 2010 02:01 PM
Last Modified: January 22nd, 2010 02:02 PM
Rescuers are searching for two people after a twin-engine plane crashed last night while taking off from the Sand Point airport, the Coast Guard says.

The ACE Air Cargo flight was leaving Sand Point for Anchorage around midnight when people in the area saw it go down, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis.

“They saw an orange flickering off the end of the runway,” Francis said.

Three Sand Point boats are searching the water, where debris was spread over 1,000 yards. Pieces of fuselage and a chair have been spotted between Egg and Little Egg islands, she said.

The Coast Guard identified the people onboard as Emily Lewis and Ameer Ali. As of about 9:15 a.m., they hadn’t been found.

“It’s like we lost a couple of family members today,” said Stewart Turner, a 23-year-old ACE pilot who sometimes flew with Ali.

Ali, 28, grew up in upstate New York and came to Alaska after serving as a flight mechanic in the Marines, said his younger brother, Shareif Ali.

“When he does something, he puts in like a 120 percent. That starts when he was in the Marines and afterwards when he was studying to become a pilot,” Shareif said.

Before flying for ACE, Ameer Ali was a well-liked flight instructor at Merrill Field-based Take Flight Alaska, said Camille Gates, office manager for the flight school.

When he started in 2007, he was working nights waiting tables at Orso’s restaurant, she said. “He always wanted to bring his mom here to live. He really, really loved it here.”

Ali has no wife or children, his brother said.

The age and hometown of Emily Lewis weren’t immediately available, the Coast Guard said.

Reached on his personal phone, Turner said Lewis recently moved to Alaska, followed by her fiance.

“One of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met right off the bat. Very sincere and genuine,” he said.

Lewis and her fiance planned to marry soon, Turner said. “Before they moved up here they were crop dusters. They flew small aircraft individually, single-seaters.”

Sand Point is on Popof Island, off the Alaska Peninsula, 570 miles from Anchorage, with a 4,000-foot runway.

The aircraft is a Beechcraft 1900 that would typically fly with a pilot and first officer, said Larry Lewis, an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board in Anchorage.

“My understanding is this is a cargo flight and there were no other passengers than the crew,” he said.

Winds blew at gusts of up to 31 knots with low overcast conditions and good visibility around the time of the crash, Lewis said.

The Coast Guard sent a Jayhawk helicopter and a C-130 from Kodiak to aid in the search. The C-130 has left the area and the Jayhawk has been refueling in Sand Point, where a replacement crew will arrive to continue the search, Francis said.

“Our main focus is trying to find these two folks now who have been in the water for more than five hours, and that’s not good,” she said.

Turner, the ACE pilot and close friend of Ali, fears they didn’t make it.

“It doesn’t take long in that water to end a person’s life,” he said.

Employees at the ACE offices in Anchorage declined to comment.

Ali and Lewis were taking off in difficult conditions on the last leg of a long day, Turner said. He said the plane was carrying cargo and had plenty of fuel on board. He doesn’t know why the aircraft crashed but suspects a mechanical problem.

“For whatever reason the airplane could not climb,” Turner said.

FlightAware Flight Tracker

Aviation Safety Report

Alaska Central Express operate 4 Beechcraft 1900C,

N111AX, N112AX, N113AX, N115AX.

SAND POINT, Alaska – The Coast Guard has suspended its search of the waters near Sand Point for two pilots missing after the crash of their cargo plane.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally says a Coast Guard plane and helicopter from Kodiak searched more than 350 nautical miles over 14 hours Friday before the search was suspended late Friday afternoon.

The two aboard the ACE Air Beechcraft 1900C cargo plane were identified as pilot Ameer Ali and co-pilot Emily Lewis. Lally says the aircraft crashed early Friday shortly after takeoff from the Sand Point airport. The plane had been bound for Anchorage with a load of fish and mail.

The Coast Guard says it received a call about 12:20 a.m. from Sand Point police that fire department responders and others reported debris in the water off the end of the runway. The debris field was later described as about three miles wide.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

ACE Air Press Release,

January 22, 2010
ACE Air Cargo has joined the search for our Beech 1900 aircraft, that disappeared shortly after departing Sand Point, Alaska with two pilots on board yesterday evening. At this time, we are focused on the welfare of our pilots and their families and will be releasing no further information at this time. We ask that the media respect the privacy of our employees and their families at this time. More information will be released as it becomes available.

Hey Beechluvr. That’s a Beechcraft for ya!

ya saw that…sad outcome for the crew.

Uh, your tone seems a little jovial for such a thread. Would you like to clarify what you mean? Just sayin.

Sorry. But whenever somebody says something good about a Beechcraft, Beechluvr always, “That’s a Beechcraft for ya!” But I don’t really like Beechcrafts, so I was just messin’ with him…

Probably would have been better to have sent him a PM Will.

I’m not talking bad about the people missing… I’m talking about the airplane! :unamused:

I knew that Will, but it doesn’t change the fact that your post makes you appear an insensitive jerk to those not familiar with your “style”.

Well I am an insensitive jerk, so… :neutral_face:

I served with Ameer Ali while he was in the Marine Corps he was one of the best Flight mechanics I have ever flown with thr world has lost a wonderful human being he always had a smile on his face he was the only person i have ever met who could smile through a check ride

Flickr photo
N112AX Beech 1900C of ACE Air - accident aircraft

Same model Beech that crashed on takeoff from Charlotte headed to GSP several years ago. Living in Greenville, SC at the time, I remember that day clearly.

And one crashed right after takeoff from KBIL nearly two years ago. … 20080523-0

Then again, pick any model airplane that has been around any length of time and there will be crashes for a variety of reasons.
When it happens within 2 miles of your house, it tends to get your attention a little more.

That was a horrific accident;

January 8th 2003

US Airways/Air Midwest Beech 1900D N233YV - 21 fatalities . . .
Charlotte-Douglas Intl. Airport NC

After takeoff from Runway 18R the nose of the Beech pitched up from 7 degrees to 52 degrees by the time it reached 1200 feet. The airplane rolled and struck the corner of a large USAirways hangar.

Two days prior to the accident maintenance had been performed on the airplane’s elevator tab.

NTSB accident report

YouTube video NTSB animation of accident.