QUILCENE — The pilot who died in a plane crash late Friday night was identified Sunday as federal officials continued to investigate what caused the plane to crash into Buck Mountain.
The pilot was Lance T. Aikins, 69, of Olympia, according to Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Haas, who acts as the county coroner.
He said he did not have the name of the passenger who was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center on Saturday morning.
Tim Manly, chief of the Brinnon Fire Department, said family had been notified, but he was unable to provide identifying information for the passenger who survived the crash.
Aikins owned a Bellanca 8KCAB fixed wing single-engine aircraft in Shelton, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Manly said Aikins and another man were flying from Port Townsend to Shelton.
Manly said he did not know the cause of the crash and that the National Transportation Safety Board is continuing to investigate.
Manly said search and rescue teams were on scene for 14 hours after the survivor reported the crash at 10:38 p.m. Friday.
“We wrapped it up at around noon [Saturday],” said Manly, who responded to the crash.
He said finding the wreckage was initially difficult. Clouds and fog made it impossible for a helicopter from Naval Base Whidbey Island to find the crash site, which he said was on the north face of Buck Mountain.
“We were going to try to have the helicopter find the aircraft and lower people in,” he said. “But it wasn’t safe for them to be in the area.”
That’s when crews from multiple search and rescue teams went in by foot.
Using GPS from the survivor’s cellphone and the aircraft’s beacon, officials were able to pinpoint where the crash site was, he said.
He said that 13 people arrived to the crash site at about 5 a.m. Saturday. Others were along the mountainside acting as radio relays and others remained at incident command.
The ground team took the survivor, who Manly described as in “serious but stable condition,” to the ridge line where he was hoisted into a Navy helicopter and flown to Harborview Medical Center.
Members of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Quilcene Fire & Rescue and Brinnon Fire Department, Olympic Mountain Rescue and Jefferson Search and Rescue responded, Manly said.
Manly said he was happy with how smoothly the rescue operation went and the professionalism of those involved.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.