Two small planes collided in the air in Alaska on Friday, killing all seven people on both aircraft, including state Rep. Gary Knopp, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday. The crash occurred about 8:30 a.m. local time in Soldotna, about 150 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska state troopers said in a statement.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy ordered the US and state flags be flown at half-staff for three days.
“Throughout his 42 years on the Kenai Peninsula, Gary became well known as an avid outdoorsman, a skilled pilot, & a dedicated public servant,” Dunleavy said on Twitter.
“His presence will no doubt be missed by those he faithfully served.”
Fellow legislators and public officials reacted with shock, dismay and grief as word of Knopp’s death spread.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a statement Friday on behalf of himself and his wife, Rose.
Born in Whitefish, Montana, Knopp was a certified flight instructor and registered pilot who moved to Alaska in 1979 and worked for many years as a general contractor. He was elected to the Alaska Legislature in 2016 after serving on the Kenai Borough Assembly and was a candidate in this year’s Republican primary for House District 30.
Knopp’s name will remain on the ballot, and if he wins the primary, Alaska Republican Party officials will name a replacement.
The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that it is investigating the crash “involving a Piper PA-12 and a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver.”
The NTSB is investigating Friday’s crash in Soldotna, AK involving a Piper PA-12 and a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver.
— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) July 31, 2020