Alaska Float Plane Crash Was Result of Corrosion

The crash that killed a guide, pilot and two anglers on their way to Alaska’s Royal Wulff Lodge last year was caused by corrosion in the wing, according to a federal accident report. Unfortunately, this kind of corrosion would be undetectable without removing the wings, so the FAA sent a special bulletin on Sept. 9 to all operators of the type of plane involved — the Helio Courier. “[Royal Wulff co-owner Chris] Branham said he bought the plane from legendary Bush pilot Lowell Thomas in the 1980s, and his lodge uses three other Helio Couriers. The reason his company chose this type of plane for the lodge was its reputation as one of the safest in the world, he said.” Elizabeth Bluemink in the Anchorage Daily News.

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  • Old seaplanes and old operations don’t mix. I was a pilot applicant with Chris Branham. Chris is a quality guy who flies junk. A long time ago I figured out that its crazy to fly old machines when nice new ones are available. Dave Wiley from Portland Oregon suffered the same result…crash and dead! 80 yrs old and died in a seaplane. Foolish! I may have an incident or two every 10 years or so, but I’ve never had an accident in 43 years of experience including 5 seasons in AK mostly flying the rugged and proven DHC-2 Beaver.
    Chris needs to open his wallet and get some planes that are not unsafe. I wouldn’t put my foot inside his Helio Couriers. They are ready for the junk yard!