Confirmed: Seven souls lost, including Rep. Gary Knopp in midair crash in Soldotna


Updated: The names of all passengers in the aircraft collision in Soldotna this morning have been released. All seven have died.

Troopers identified Rep. Gary Knopp, age 67, of Kenai, as the sole occupant of one plane. The six decedents from the other aircraft are identified as Pilot Gregory Bell, age 57 of Soldotna; Guide David Rogers, age 40 of Kansas; Caleb Hulsey, age 26, of South Carolina; Heather Hulsey, age 25 of South Carolina; Mackay Hulsey, age 24, of South Carolina; Kirstin Wright, age 23, of South Carolina.

At approximately 8:27 am hours Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna received a report of a plane crash near mile 91.5 of the Sterling Highway. 

The majority of the wreckage was located approximately two hundred yards from the road. The crash was reported by multiple witnesses. AST, AWT, Soldotna Police Department, Central EMS, State Parks and FAA all responded to the crash site. 

Investigation determined that two planes were involved in a mid-air collision; one plane had a single occupant, Gary Knopp, and the other aircraft had six people onboard. 

NTSB has been notified and will be conducting the investigation as to the cause of this crash.

“This is an unfathomable tragedy for multiple families today. The DPS sends a heartfelt condolence to all who lost a loved one in this mid-air collision,” said Commissioner Amanda Price, Department of Public Safety. “Troopers and partner agencies have worked together diligently at the scene and have reached out to next of kin to notify them of this heartbreaking incident.”

Must Read Alaska has confirmed that Rep. Gary Knopp was the pilot of a plane involved in a midair plane crash this morning in Soldotna. Seven souls were lost in the collision.

The governor has released statements of condolences for the families.

Knopp, a representative from District 30, was piloting his own plane. The other was a charter air service “High Adventure Air” based out of Longmere Lake, with several on board. 

The planes collided over Mayoni Street, close to mile 91.5 of the Sterling Highway. The highway was closed for a time but is now open and Troopers are on the scene.

Knopp, who represents District 30, reportedly owns a  PA 12, also called a Piper Super Cruiser. The other plane was a Beaver on floats, according to MRAK sources. The parts of the planes were barely visible from Mayoni Street, a dirt road.

Central Peninsula Hospital confirmed one person arrived by ambulance; that person later died.

High Adventure Air has an excellent reputation for communicating their location and intentions for air traffic. Their base of operations is about two miles from the Soldotna air strip at Longmere Lake.

This is a breaking story. Check back for more information.

Original story:


  1. Well you and Tuckerman were nothing but wicked to Gary, Suzanne. It’s actually infuriating that you were so quick to report this story. You should stay silent and let his family and friends grieve.

        • Most every post has been compassionate about these deaths- but apparently you want to go back and criticize, and cast aspersions on the character of the criticism-of the editor of this publication? So now we aren’t allowed to discuss people’s character or nature or politics while they are alive as well?

          You’re right Cam- that is “rich”

          Good people here did not like this man’s politics and said so. They had every right to say it. Some of his decisions and actions also had aspects of his character reflected in them, and people were within their rights to make assessments there as well. Now that he has passed we can all mourn the loss of an Alaskan, without you or anyone else telling us we had no right to criticize his actions while alive. We had EVERY right.

    • She should stay silent but it’s ok when the ADN, KTUU, KTVA are all reporting it. Take your agenda somewhere else.

    • It was written with respect and politics were kept out of it. Why is it infuriating that the news was reported? Losing a long time politician is news needing reported no matter what side of the center you lean on. This publication is certainly not the only media outlet to report the story while their friends and families are grieving.

    • Sara Erickson, your comment makes no logical sense whatsoever. Suzanne has not been “wicked”, she’s reported facts. You should stay silent and not try to turn such a tragic event into a political argument.

    • Sara Erickson:
      you are a nasty, wicked woman for trying to implicate Suzanne in your diatribe of hatred. I was no fan of Gary Knopp, but I am sadden by any death. You should be ashamed of yourself, Sara. And thank you Suzanne for your accurate reporting.

    • Baloney!! News is news. Responsibility of LE to inform the family and how do YOU KNOW THAT WASNT ALREADY DONE. Sorry for the loss of life but there are no tears in my eyes for Senator Koop!!

    • Look, Sara, one should try to refrain from speaking ill of the dead but Gary was a far left nut-bar and all commentary that I’ve ever seen from Suzanne was nothing short of spot on.

      Shame on you for your ridiculous attempt to scold someone who’d brought us the unvarnished truth regarding an absolute cancer on public policy and a drain on the public purse strings.

      RIP anyway and condolences to his family and friends but I’ll venture to guess there were much, much better people than Gary who’d perished in the tragedy.

    • Come on Sara. We all say things in politics but don’t mean physical harm. This is what Suzanne does so please don’t be holier than though here. Everyone regrets this happening and anyone that does not should be banned from social media

    • Wicked to Gary? You have got to be kidding. Honest? Yes. Suzanne did a great job of reporting this important news. She would have done the same no matter who was in those airplanes. So, lay off.

  2. This is such a sad day. I could never agree with Rep. Knopp, but I believe he was a man of his convictions. My prayers go out to his family and friends.

  3. I wasn’t a fan of my representative, but I’d never wish this on him or his family. To Gary Knopp’s friends and family, I am so sorry for your loss!

    • Many people were fans of Gary’s. He had a passion to work for and with the commons regardless of political party. Something all politicians could learn from. A great legacy to have. It was difficult to read those negative campaign ads because he was so far above that. Gary had kindness and wanted to do good work.

  4. Have you no decency, Suzanne? You seem to be accusing Gary of being at fault for the crash. Maybe you didn’t know that Gary was a Civil Air Patrol instructor.

  5. My condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Knopp…I’m so sorry for your loss, and I hope you’ll remember him well.

  6. Wait a minute! How about all of the other deceased? They deserve some respect too. Before we start amping up a huge outpouring only for Gary Knopp, let’s wait and see which pilot caused the crash.

  7. Reporting “News” is one thing but it is unconscionable that the article on Gary’s death was reported on must read Alaska PRIOR to his wife being notified of his death, and PRIOR to being confirmed by state troopers. To me that is unforgivable, and nothing less.

    • I do not believe it was Must Read. I read it on ADN very early this morning. Be sure you know what you are talking about.

    • I am sorry you lost your friend, Louise. Prayers for all 7 of the deceased and their survivors.

      OTOH, lashing out at Suzanne and MRAK for reporting something that the ADN already reported is a bit much.

      All that being said, care to explain your outrageous vote in support Edgmon’s appointment to the Redistricting Board? Cheers –

    • Ms. Stutes: we all know you and Gary had a special relationship as legislators and as friends. We all know, and we’re sorry for your loss. That does not excuse you for telling a lie about Must Read Alaska. Your poor judgment shows once again. Not a good look, my dear.

  8. Reporting “News” is one thing, but I find it to have been unconscionable to see Gary’s death reported on Must Read ALaska PRIOR to his wife being notified of his death and PRIOR to it being confirmed by the troopers. I find that to be despicable and unforgivable.

    • Louise, are you directing these comments as well to the Anchorage Daily News, which reported it first, or to The House Majority Press Office, which also announced it. Our original story said “fate uncertain.” We followed several outlets that went first. And it was confirmed when we reported it. -sd

      • These deaths, among many others, sadly could have been prevented if the pilots had communicated with the local FAA for air space. What is going on with small aircraft and accountability of who is up there at a given time? The endless bickering should be redirected to an inquiry as to whether both of these small aircraft had functioning radios and were/weren’t
        able to contact the local tower. Chances are one of them did not have a operating radio, and no one did a operating check before flight, or the plane had not been approved for flight. There are reasons why safety measures exist. For your own sake, if you are patroning a small plane, you have a right to inquire if the plane has been serviced and approved for flight, proof of insurance and if the pilot has filed a flight plan. RIP

      • SD,
        You must know by now that if a liberal (incl. RINOs from the Emerald Isle) tell a lie and repeat it, it becomes truth. Seconded, if one says it they all say it. It never ends.

    • Louise,

      Many died today in a tragic accident and you decide it is the time to put YOUR POLITICS on display? Shameful, despicable, and certainly unforgivable.

    • Hello Louise Stutes. Did you get your daily bit of bitterness and hate out of your system? You have announced your problem to everybody here. Your unhappiness with the world in general precedes your ability to reason and to articulate with a sound mind. Go seek therapy before the election. It will help you from coming completely off the rails after the election. I have helped many people like you and I can assure you that you have many problems.

    • C’mon, Louise, you have no moral high ground to stand on and you’re way out of line.

      Why can’t you admit that you’re really butt-hurt at Suzanne for shining a bright light on you, Gary, and the rest of the swamp and then just go away?

  9. Stop the childish bickering. You’re embarrassing! Knopp wasn’t the only one who died. Some where out their, parents are morning their young children whose lives were just starting out! A child should NEVER die before their parents. Most, if not all of you, cannot imagine the pain they are going through. They are going through HELL and will continue to do so! Family members and friends are morning the the pilot and the guide as well. BE RESPECTFUL with your comments. They WILL read them some day. Trust me! You’re just causing them more pain!

    • This is exactly why I prefer to read MRAK over all other reporting services. Suzanne is correct 99% of the time, and when she’s not, she corrects herself with an apology. You Lefties and Democrats who spout off with your garbage are a bunch of hypocrites and liars.

  10. Another high-wing vs low-wing collision. Be careful out there people, some configurations make it hard to see and avoid.

    God bless the families and friends left behind.

    • Beaver v. super cub. Aren’t they both high wing? Looks like the cub went straight in on the nose. Both just minutes from airport. Was one taking off? Who didn’t see who? Didn’t the tower advise both pilots of traffic? Any details out there?

  11. Beaver on floats heading west from a lake take-off. Super Cub taking off from Soldotna airport. Collision occured NE of airport over Sterling Hwy. Likely that Cub was making a left turn after take-off and Beaver was already in the air. Waiting for more news, though.

    • If true, Tim, then Knopp would have advised the tower that he was making a left turn heading north during climb out. The Beaver would have already been in flight and approaching Knopp’s plane from the East. Knopp may have had the morning sun in his eyes to the east, making it difficult to see the Beaver. Both pilots should have been aware of traffic from both the airport and the lake. However, this is all conjecture and subject to NTSB report.

      • Latest by NTSB:
        Beaver with six onboard flying west after departing Longmere Lake. PA-12 Piper Cub (Knopp) just took off. But NTSB says that Knopp took off from a private strip 2 miles NE of the Soldotna Airport. That’s roughly the same area of the crash. Visibility was 10 miles. If no radio communications between the pilots, then who had the right of way, and who was supposed to yield air space? More coming soon.

        • Any more details on the crash? Is it possible to tell what errors caused the collision or it it could have been avoided? Thanks Tim.

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