Note: This story is likely to be updated several times in the coming hours as information becomes available.
The National Transportation Safety Board is responding to a plane crash in Western Alaska, in the area of Shaktoolik and Unalakleet. Troopers
are en route to the site but as of this writing have not reached it.
Troopers issued a statement:
On June 16, 2023, at 11:48 am, Alaska State Troopers were notified of an SOS activation from an InReach device. It was reported that there had been a plane crash 35 miles Northeast of Shaktoolik. The Cessna 180 aircraft was witnessed taking off but not climbing and then crashing. Subsequent information was reported that both occupants of the aircraft were deceased. AST responded from Nome and recovered the two bodies from the crash site. Tentative identification of the deceased is Pilot Jim Tweto, age 68 of Unalakleet, Alaska, and passenger Shane Reynolds, age 45 of Orofino, Idaho. Next of kin has been notified. The bodies are being transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage. NTSB was notified of the crash.
Earlier Must Read Alaska report:
Reports from pilots in the area say two souls were on board — the pilot, Jim Tweto, and a bear hunting guide. Tweto, who is from the Unalakleet flying community, is a very experienced bush pilot and typically flies a Cessna 180 or 207.
A helicopter from Bering Air was en route to the scene, sources say. The pilot community is not optimistic about the fate of the two on board, based on reports.
His daughter Ariel confirmed Jim’s death in a heart-wrenching post on social media:
“NTSB investigating the crash of a Cessna 180H airplane near Unalakleet, Alaska,” is the terse statement on Twitter from the federal agency in charge of aviation incidents.
Tweto was featured on Flying Wild Alaska, a Discovery show that finished its last season 12 years ago. He was born in Kansas, raised in Minnesota, and made his way to Alaska at age 18 with a hockey scholarship to University of Alaska Anchorage. He settled in Unalakleet, where he married Ferno Tweto.
In 1990, the Twetos’ flying company merged with Hageland Aviation, which merged with with Era Alaska in 2008. Jim became the chief operating officer of Era when they merged with Frontier Flying Service in 2009 and became a major regional air carrier in Alaska. A community leader in the region, Tweto is a household name in Western Alaska.
“He has helped so many people out in good times and bad, he was just that kind of guy,” said one source who asked to remain anonymous. “He was a highly respected and generous man.”
Another source said, “He was a good guy,” adding that the aviation community is close knit, and in shock.
Tweet’s brother Ron died in 2008 in a plane crash in Arkansas.
Shane Reynolds, the passenger, is the owner of Northwest Fishing Expeditions of Idaho.