Ted Stevens Senator
August 11, 2010 by Post Team
Ted Stevens Senator, (Los Angeles Times) — Ted Stevens, the former senator killed Monday in a plane crash in rugged terrain in western Alaska, was no stranger to extraordinary risks of flying in his home state.
Stevens lost his first wife of 26 years, Mary Ann, in December 1978, when a Learjet carrying the couple attempted to land in strong crosswinds Anchorage head and crashed, breaking into four pieces.
Even before the first crash, which left him with serious neck, head and arm injuries, Stevens had spoken of a premonition he would die in a plane crash, meeting the same fate as the representative Nick Begich, the Democratic congressman from Alaska who died in an accident in 1972.
Long before and long after Stevens’ first brush with death, the skies of Alaska have been made victims by the dozen.
About 35% of all passengers and air taxi accidents in the U.S. have occurred in the most northern state, where the transport depends on the aircraft to save large tracts of desert. During a period of 19 years ending in 2008, there were 551 accidents in the state, federal reports show.
Accident rates have improved in recent years, but the terrain, climate and the challenge of flying in rugged wilderness still create unique risk to pilots and their passengers.
In fact, the crash that killed Stevens was one of the two plane crashes on Monday, and among a number of recent tragedies, “said Michael Schneider, a pilot from Anchorage and a lawyer specializing in aviation litigation. The area where the plane went down Stevens, north of Dillingham, is particularly dangerous.
“It is spectacularly beautiful country, but when the wind blows out there, it really blows,” said Schneider. “If you get the mountains running in one direction and the wind blowing in the opposite direction, you can get any air turbulence that can be overcome.”
Stevens, a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, was a pilot in World War II, where he flew transport which supports operations in China against Japan. He maintained his pilot’s license valid for many years, but could not be reached Tuesday in a federal database.
Many crashed planes are never found, but search and rescue teams were able to locate the wreckage of the single-engine seaplane took Stevens and former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe.
When the plane crashed in October 1972 Begich, who also led the Chamber of Representatives Hale Boggs, a Louisiana Democrat, who had gone to Alaska to help the campaign in a tight race Begich.
Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force planes searched the crash site for 39 days. The wreckage was never found, and both Begich and Boggs were re-elected after his death.
Perhaps the two most famous people killed in the skies of Alaska were humorist and social commentator Will Rogers and aviation pioneer Wiley Post, which crashed near post controls in 1935.
Rogers had visited Post in Burbank, where he was a changed Lockheed Pacific Airmotive. He asked the famous aviator, who had made the first solo flight around the world, will fly to Alaska in search of stories.
On August 15, 1935, the two took off from a lagoon near Point Barrow, when the engine lost power and the plane crashed nose first into the pond. They died on the spot.
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