• Pilot killed, passenger injured in Whidbey Island plane crash

    By: Deborah Horne

    Updated:

    A 63-year-old Everett man died when the airplane he was flying crashed just north of the Whidbey Island airfield in Langley.

    His passenger was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

    Firefighters had to cut their way through thick woods to reach the two-seat, experimental plane that crashed just north of the airfield on Whidbey Island. In fact, the woods are so dense, they said they couldn't even find the crash scene by themselves. They needed help from a plane carrying friends of the two people involved in this crash.

    This crash happened at about 11:15 a.m. Saturday, just north of the airfield here in Langley.

    The plane crashed into the dense woods that are all around the airfield. Firefighters say they had to use chainsaws to cut a path through the woods to get to the crash scene.  

    They don't know how long that operation took but when they got there, the pilot was dead. The female passenger was alive, conscious and talking.

    Lt. Jon Gabelein of South Whidbey Fire & Rescue says she told him they "tried to land and crashed upon landing. And she wasn't sure, she was the passenger, so the actual cause of the crash will be investigated by the NTSB. But the crash occurred during attempted landing."

    Realtor Paul Tschetter said he was working on a project when he saw the commotion.

    "Saw the airport owner and a police car basically charge onto my property and everybody was headed for the woods," said Tschetter. "So I asked them what was going on and joined them in their efforts to try to find the plane."

    KIRO 7 was there as the airlift landed at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with the injured passenger on board. She appeared able to talk with the nurse who had been on board the flight, right before she was wheeled to a waiting ambulance for the short trip to the Emergency Room.

    Late Saturday, the Island County coroner identified the pilot as Marc Drake of Everett. According to those who talked to their friends, they were flying in for a monthly breakfast meeting of avid aviators from around the Puget Sound. Their friends had gathered at the Mukilteo Coffee Roasters.

    The crash investigation has been turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board.  

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