Alaska Floatplane Attempts to Land Between Cruise Ships, Crashes in Third Sea Plane Mishap in Two Months

A floatplane has crashed in Alaska while trying to land between two cruise ships, making it the third seaplane to be involved in an accident in the region in just two months.

The floatplane was carrying five people when it crashed into the water off the city of Ketchikan on Thursday. The aircraft missed several vessels sitting in the bay, vessels that rushed to assist the plane after it came down, Alaska Public Media reported.

There were no injuries among those on board, and all five—one pilot and four passengers—were rescued from the water. Ketchikan Police Department Deputy Chief Eric Mattson said that at least one person was taken to hospital, possibly to be treated for minor injuries.

When police arrived at the scene, Mattson said they could see the plane around 150-200 yards out to sea. "There were several watercrafts that were rendering aid," he added. "You could see that one of the floatplanes was overturned. I could see the tail, some wing, the float sticking up."

At least half a dozen nearby ships came to the plane's aid, Mattson told Alaska Public Media. A 30-foot fishing vessel eventually brought the shaken passengers to the dock where they were met by emergency personnel.

Witnesses described their shock watching the plane come down in the bay. Ed Dewing, a passenger on the Sojourn cruise ship, said the plane turned between two vessels as it came in to land. "I said to my wife: 'Wow, this is really going to be cool because he banked in-between the two cruise ships and landed right here,'" Dewing explained.

"It just seemed to veer left way too soon speed-wise," he added. "At that point I was just sort of hoping everybody was okay."

Another Sojourn passenger, Michael Perron, said that the plane touched down on the water successfully and that "everything seemed fine." A former private plane pilot himself, Perron suggested the pilot may have turned the aircraft before it slowed down, "and then the wing clipped the water and he dove in."

There have has two other floatplane crashes in the Ketchikan area in the last two months, both of which were deadly. On May 13, two planes collided killing six people, while six others survived. One of the pilots survived the crash, and reported seeing a bright flash from his left side before the impact. His plane then pitched into the water while the other broke up in mid-air, KTUU-TV reported.

Then, on May 20, a floatplane flipped when trying to land near the Metlakatla settlement, killing the two people on board. Investigations into both incidents are still ongoing.

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This file photo shows a floatplane moored near the village of Valdez in Alaska on February 3, 2004. Mediacolors/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty