Charles Luck 2011-07-24
Liping Tang-Luck

Coast Guard searching for missing plane near Juneau

The Associated Press, Published: July 24th, 2011

JUNEAU -- The Coast Guard has launched a search for a missing plane in the Juneau area.

Operations Specialist Lindsey Kirby said the Coast Guard was notified after 7 a.m. Sunday.

Kirby said the aircraft contacted the Juneau tower about 6:43 a.m. about approaching for a landing.

KINY reported the plane was asked to contact the tower again at the four-mile mark, but it never did.

Authorities believe the plane is a Cessna 182 with one person on board.

The Coast Guard is searching around Stephens Passage and the east side of Mansfield Peninsula.

Kirby said searchers have picked up an emergency locator transmitter signal.

Two bodies recovered from airplane wreck near Juneau

Daily News staff and wire reports, Published: July 25th, 2011

Two bodies were recovered Monday from the wreckage of a small-plane crash on a mountainside on Douglas Island just west of Juneau, a National Transportation Safety Board official said.

The plane, a Cessna 182, was en route from Hoonah to Juneau when it disappeared Sunday morning.

Wreckage, including an engine and a propeller, was discovered at the base of a 50-foot cliff near the island's Eagle Crest Peak late Sunday afternoon.

But search teams looking for the plane's occupants and the crash site had to turn back due to bad weather and rough terrain.

Conditions remained rainy, foggy and overcast Monday when a team hiked up to search the area.

NTSB investigator Clint Johnson said wreckage was found at the 3,100-foot level on a mountain, about 500 feet from the summit.

Much of it was in pieces scattered around that area, he said.

The terrain leading to the crash site was "very steep, very treacherous," Johnson said.

Names of those killed had not been released Monday.

Anchorage couple killed in plane crash near Juneau

Associated Press, Published: July 26th, 2011

JUNEAU -- Authorities have released the identities of the two victims of a plane crash near Juneau on Sunday.

Alaska State Troopers said the bodies of the pilot, 77-year-old Charles Luck of Anchorage, and his wife, Liping Tang-Luck, were found on Douglas Island Monday.

Troopers said poor weather and steep terrain have kept aircraft from flying in the area to recover the bodies. Troopers said searchers and investigators had to hike up 1,800 feet and 3.5 miles one way from the staging area to reach the accident site. The weather in Juneau has been rainy and foggy since Sunday.

A Cessna 182 was en route from Hoonah to Juneau when it disappeared Sunday morning. Debris was found later in the day but poor weather and rough terrain hampered further search efforts.

Bad weather hampers recovery of plane crash victims' bodies

Associated Press

Published: July 27th, 2011

JUNEAU -- Poor weather has prevented Alaska State Troopers from recovering the bodies of an Anchorage couple killed in a plane crash near Juneau.

The Juneau Empire says weather prevented two attempts to reach the crash site on Tuesday. Another attempt was scheduled for today. The site is only accessible on the ground by hiking 3 1/2 miles from a lodge.

The single-engine Cessna 182 crashed Sunday near Eagle Crest Peak on Douglas Island. Believed to have been on board were pilot Charles Luck and his wife, Liping Tang-Luck.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

It has been rainy, overcast and foggy in the Juneau area since Sunday.

NTSB says poor visibility played role in crash near Juneau

By CASEY GROVE,, Published: August 4th, 2011

Limited visibility likely played a role in a fatal plane crash last month near Juneau, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator said Thursday.

The July 24 crash killed an Anchorage couple: 77-year-old Charles Luck Jr. and his wife, 51-year-old Liping Tang-Luck. Poor weather prevented a helicopter from retrieving their bodies for five days, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

Luck was flying a Cessna 182 from Hoonah to Juneau when the plane slammed into a mountain adjacent to Eaglecrest Ski Area, about five miles from the Juneau airport, NTSB investigator Clint Johnson said.

The airport reported "marginal" visibility -- five miles or less -- due to poor weather at the time, the investigator said.

"We are definitely looking at weather as a contributing factor, but nothing has been ruled out at this point," Johnson said. "The weather in this area, in the pass by the ski area, where the accident happened, is predominantly worse than it is down in the Juneau area."

The couple had flown from Anchorage to Juneau the day before the accident. They refueled, and then continued on to Hoonah, where they spent the night, Johnson said. They were returning to Juneau the next day when the plane crashed about 6:45 a.m.

Alaska Airlines told NTSB investigators that Luck's wife had booked a flight from Juneau to Anchorage that was to depart at 7:30 a.m., Johnson said.

That afternoon, members of the Juneau Mountain Rescue Group tracked an emergency beacon up the mountain and found wreckage at the base of an 800-foot rock face, according to Johnson's preliminary report on the crash.

It wasn't until the next day that searchers, including Johnson, found the victims at about 3,100 feet, he said.

"This was probably one of the toughest climbs I've done in 14 years," Johnson said. "We got everything done that we needed to, but we had a very short time at the accident site."

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.

NTSB: Several factors likely contributed to fatal plane crash
Weather, topography cited as likely factors in couple's deaths.

By CASEY GROVE, Anchorage Daily News Published: April 10th, 2012

A husband and wife who died in a Juneau plane crash last summer were trying to make a connection to a commercial flight, according to a report on the accident released today.

Pilot Charles Luck, 77, and his wife, Liping Tang-Luck, 51, died when Luck's Cessna 182 slammed into a mountain near Juneau's Eaglecrest Ski Area in July 2011.

Luck was an experienced pilot who was moving from Anchorage to Hoonah to be a physician's assistant, according to his friend's account in a National Transportation Safety Board report released Tuesday.

The day before the fatal crash, Luck and his wife had flown the Cessna from Anchorage to Juneau. Tang-Luck was supposed to catch an Alaska Airlines flight back to Anchorage that day, but when she missed it, the couple flew to Hoonah for the night. The next day they headed back to Juneau. Tang-Luck was booked on a flight scheduled to leave about 40 minutes after the crash, the report says.

Several factors -- including Luck's unfamiliarity with the area, the mountainous terrain, poor weather, and the possibility that Luck was rushing -- likely contributed to the crash, said NTSB Investigator Clint Johnson.

Luck had thousands of flight hours and was rated to fly with just the plane's instruments. That means he was experienced enough and had a certificate to pilot the plane without visual reference to the ground, for example, through clouds. Luck flew from Anchorage to Juneau the day before the crash under an instrument-only flight plan, but he did not file such a plan for the return to Juneau from Hoonah, Johnson said.

The Visual Flight Rules plan under which Luck flew the day of the crash required him to stay at least a mile away from clouds. Evidence gathered later indicated Luck did not follow that rule, Johnson said. A "high percentage" of plane crashes in Alaska occur under such conditions, Johnson said.

"We deal with some challenging weather in Alaska and some challenging topography," Johnson said.

Luck was using a hand-held global positioning system not rated for instrument-only flight, the report says. Johnson said Luck, whose plane was on wheels, might have followed an incorrect flight path toward a sea plane base, instead of the Juneau airport. The airport could have been approached over open water, Johnson said, but the route to the sea plane base led into the mountains.

"He was unfamiliar with the area," Johnson said. "He was moving to the area. He had asked around to different pilots about routes."

The plane broke apart when it smashed into rocks about 3,100 feet up the roughly 3,900-foot mountain. The engine and other pieces of wreckage went over a 900-foot cliff and were the first bits of the plane that rescuers found before driving rain and wind turned them, Johnson said. Later, Alaska State Troopers, Johnson and another NTSB investigator, and members of the Juneau Mountain Rescue Group located the plane's fuselage and the bodies inside.

"This airplane came to rest, more or less, on a small outcropping. Why it didn't go over the side is beyond me," Johnson said. "It was quite a climb to get there. It was a grueling one. Bad weather the whole way. It rained on us the whole time."

Days later, a helicopter was able to retrieve the bodies, troopers said.

The five-member National Transportation Safety Board will use the report released Tuesday to make an official determination on the probable cause of the crash, Johnson said.

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.