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Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2006

Crash claims local hunters

By JULIA O'MALLEY

Anchorage Daily News

Published: September 19, 2006

Two hunting buddies from Anchorage died Friday when their small plane slammed into a mountainside on the edge of Denali National Park and Preserve.

Investigators Monday recovered the remains of pilot Alex Stack, 38, and his passenger, Aric Beane, 33, from the burned-out wreckage of a deHavilland Beaver on a rocky slope several miles southwest of Mystic Pass in the Alaska Range.

The men were on the way back from a hunting trip, having bagged a moose in northwestern Alaska. They fueled up in Galena, on the Yukon River, and planned to land at Merrill Field, according to Alaska State Troopers.

A Cessna 185 carrying other hunters from their party flew a mile behind them and was in radio contact until shortly before the crash, said Clint Johnson, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The weather turned bad and the pilot of the second plane decided to turn back, Johnson said.

Stack was flying through a narrow pass, he said.

"The last comment that (Stack) made, he was committed in the pass and no longer could turn around and was going to proceed," Johnson said.

"Alex couldn't get the Beaver turned around," said Joireen Cohen, a friend who spoke on behalf of the Stack family Monday night. "He didn't have the room in there to get turned around."

The plane flew directly into the mountainside, Johnson said.

"The airplane came to an abrupt stop, fell ... down a steep embankment and became lodged in the embankment," Johnson said. "After the impact, there was a post-crash fire that pretty much incinerated most of the fuselage."

The plane was reported overdue Saturday and sighted by Civil Air Patrol searchers Sunday. A pararescue team reached the crash site Saturday and confirmed that no one had survived.

On Monday, Johnson inspected the wreckage, scattered across a rocky slide at 4,000 feet. The force of the crash had crumpled the wings and sheared off the floats, he said.

A flight plan had not been filed. Investigators need to interview the pilot of the second plane, Johnson said.

Stack, an avid outdoorsman, sold spinal-implant equipment to Anchorage surgeons for the medical supply company Medtronic Sofamor Danek. Beane was a civil engineer. Both men were married. Stack had two young children. Beane was a father of one.

Dee Hanson, the executive director of the Alaska Airmen's Association, was a friend of Stack's. The area of the crash is known for unpredictable weather, she said.

"It can get bad," Hanson said. "It can get bad all of a sudden."

She remembers Stack as kind and energetic. When the organization's landlord increased the rent several years ago, Stack offered them a new space rent-free, she said.

"He was very generous," she said.

Will Blair, an outfitter who made annual fishing trips with Stack to Kamchatka in the Russian Far East, said Stack cared deeply about his friends.

"He's one of these young guys who was full steam ahead," Blair said from his home in California. "His friends meant everything to him. God almighty, it's terrible."

A call to Beane's home was not immediately returned.

Friends and family gathered at the Stack home Monday night. Services have not yet been planned, Cohen said. A neighbor, Cohen knew both men.

"Both the guys were wonderful enthusiastic lovers of life," she said. "Both were wonderful fathers."

Daily News reporter Julia O'Malley can be reached at jomalley@adn.com or 257-4325. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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