The woman who died in a Knik Glacier plane crash on Monday was a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant who was working toward her commercial pilot’s license.
Her 23-year-old pilot instructor Dakota Bauder of Anchorage also died in the accident of the single-engine Cessna 172. Both had private pilots licenses, and Bauder had his commercial license, Must Read Alaska has learned. He was a multi-engine instructor.
Vierra also had her helicopter pilot’s license. It’s is unclear who was is command of the aircraft at the time of the crash. NTSB, the lead investigative agency, is in charge of sorting out the cause.
Angel Aviation Flight School out of Arizona and Alaska was the owner of the Cessna. In Alaska, the company operates out of Merrill Field.
McKenna Vierra, 27, was a cancer survivor who had beaten Large Type B Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma with months of chemotherapy, according to her family. On July 26, she and Bauder were flying over the Knik Glacier on a discovery flight, when the accident occurred. Vierra was a prospective student for Angel Aviation Flight School.
Her mother, Liane Vierra, told KHON in Honolulu that her daughter’s journey to beat cancer inspired many others.
“She was going through treatments beginning August of last year but during the times when she felt OK with treatment, she went ahead and got her instrument license,” Liane Vierra said. “And so as you can see nothing will stop her.”
Vierra beat cancer within months of her diagnosis. She worked as a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant for four years.
“The pilot’s wife informed us the news, and it was shocking, you know, our hearts were crushed, for a moment there we just sat in disbelief,” Liane Vierra said to the news station. “I don’t know how to describe the feeling but it’s something that you never want to hear.”
Alaska State Troopers said the bodies were discovered by good samaritans on Monday and recovered by Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and HELO 3 from a steep, mountainous area of Eagle River Valley.
Dakota Bauder is the son of Alaska Airlines pilot Brock Bauder and Patricia Bauder, of Sitka. Dakota fell in love with his wife Sierra Sage-Bauder while he was still in grade school and the two married after they graduated from high school.
Both Bauder and Vierra came from deeply Christian backgrounds.
“We have no regrets, we have no bitterness, we have no blame,” Vierra’s mother said to KHON. “It is unfortunate that it happened but I know that’s where she wanted to be.”
A GoFundMe page was set up by her family to pay for Vierra’s remains to be returned to Hawaii and funeral arrangements. It noted that McKenna “succeeded in her chemotherapy, finally to being cancer free. Her hard work and strength were heavily influenced by her relationship with God. My niece genuinely devoted her life to our father and lived by grace till she went home. McKenna was a free spirit and sweet soul. She lived her life to the fullest and didn’t let anything stop her from achieving what God had destined for her journey through her life. This was tragic moment for everyone. We need your help in bringing McKenna home so we can have her services to put her to rest.”