KETCHIKAN, Alaska – A small, military-style jet crashed into a mobile home park Wednesday, killing the pilot, who was found strapped to his seat 100 yards from the site, authorities said.
The plane hit one trailer, triggering a fire. No one was home at the time and all residents had been accounted for, said Alaska State Troopers spokesman Greg Wilkinson. But at least five people on the ground were treated for minor injuries from flying debris.
The aircraft was a Czech-made Albatros L39 two-seat training jet owned by a Las Vegas company, Wilkinson said. The plane left Sitka and was bound for the lower 48 states. No flight plan had been filed.
Searchers found the pilot's body across a ravine from the crash. No one else was aboard the plane, Wilkinson said.
Several witnesses saw the pilot eject from the plane at treetop level with his parachute partly deployed, Wilkinson said.
The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.
Two FBI agents also planned to go to the crash site, said agent Bob Burnham. "It's a combat aircraft and we have some questions about that," he said.
Kurtis Klose, who lives about 300 yards up the hill from the trailer park, said he was sitting down to lunch when an explosion shook his house.
"We looked out the window and there was a huge mushroom cloud and thick, black smoke," he said.
Klose ran along the street and saw a fire and smashed cars and trucks. A small crowd gathered to watch.
"There was another explosion right then. We all took off running," he said.
Steven Matoon said he had just arrived at Ketchikan Airport when he heard a plane make a loud noise. He looked up and saw it circle and then dive toward the ground.
Ketchikan, a community of 7,700, is about 230 miles southeast of Juneau.