Video: NTSB media briefing on Ketchikan mid-air collision


Monday’s midair collision in Ketchikan between two small planes killed five people aboard a Mountain Air Service de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, including the pilot, Randy Sullivan, and one passenger in a de Havilland Otter DHC-3, operated by Taquan Air.

[Read this Los Angeles Times story from 2015 about pilot Randy Sullivan]

Both planes were evidently on approach to Ketchikan and flying in the same direction at the same general altitude, when one of the planes dropped about 500 feet in altitude.

Watch the media briefing here:


  1. This crash was totally preventable.
    Just like the mid air collision over the Big Su last year…
    It is time ALL commercial flights in Alaska are required to have electronic equipment that alert pilots of other aircraft in the vicinity.
    TCAS II is already mandatory on flights with 30 passengers or more…
    If the FAA and NTSB do not mandate this equipment for “air taxis” then AK Legislators should.
    “For the past 30 years, aviation has benefited from traffic collision avoidance systems (TCAS) installed in large airplanes. The newest version of this safety technology, TCAS II, provides aural and visual warnings to pilots as well as resolution advisories instructing, for example, one airplane to climb and another to descend to avoid a midair collision.”

  2. Steve, with more cruise ships than ever in Alaska waters, these crashes are growing more frequent. The flight seeing companies are working like dogs and probably getting second rate, out of state pilots to fly in the lousy SE Alaska weather. Too many risks, and the ship passengers dont seem to care. There will be more.

    • Tim,
      While I agree many out of state pilots contribute to “flightseeing” accidents in AK, I find it hard to believe that there are not more aircraft with avionics onboard that could prevent these collisions (especially with all the clouds and weather to contend with up here).
      I am not sure how much this unit costs, but it only weighs less than a pound and requires (2) 3′ 1/2″ antennas mounted to the aircraft to work.
      The company’s website says:
      “With more than 10,000 TCAS II/ACAS II installations on more than 325 aircraft types, BendixKing is the overwhelming choice in collision avoidance for airline and corporate pilots.”

  3. Thinking back to the cover article in Flying years ago about “flying in ice without fear”. The pilot in the article was Don Jons and that was a little while before he took off on a charter leaving his ELT in a desk drawer. It was a Cessna 310 and the clients were Begich and Boggs.

    • You are so correct, Robert. A man named Bob, worked for the same aviation company as Don Jonz, and flew the exact Cessna 310 prior to Jonz using it to take Hale Boggs and Nick Begich to Juneau. However, Bob red-tagged the plane in Anchorage because he said it had a faulty de-icing system. Apparently, the problem wasn’t repaired, or Jonz ignored the red tag. And now you know how Boggs, Begich, and Jonz met their fate.

      • His name was Bob C. Thomas and lived in Fairbanks. He died in 2017. He was a terrific pilot and used to talk about that ill-fated disappearance with Boggs and Begich onboard
        Apparently, Don Jonz was a bit of a cowboy up in the pilot’s seat.

        • Thanks for info… fills in parts of that story. A 310 can quickly become a brick without proper deicing. Maybe some day the plane will be found much like the ill-fated “STENDEC” flight in the Andes.

          • Bob Thomas told me the plane would never be found. It was fall time, the stormy season. It could have gone down anywhere in the glaciers, mts, or in the sea. Broken up or covered over by glaciation. Air Force even brought in infra red imaging, but never found a trace. Some conspiracy buffs claimed Begich and Boggs were kidnapped. Bob Thomas stated that the plane and pilot Jonz were a lethal mix. Too bad Begich and Boggs didn’t know that.

  4. The main inference is the “Sports Illustrated Syndrome” of being in print and not in this case making a link to the pilots here. As for Jons.. that is another story;.

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