Richard Roiland, 10-03-08
Homemade plane crashes, killing its pilot
By JAMES HALPIN, email@example.com, October 4th, 2008
EKLUTNA: Investigators say early reports indicate that weather wasn't a factor.
The pilot of an experimental airplane that took a nose-dive into woods near Eklutna
on Friday afternoon was killed in the second fatal aircraft accident in Anchorage
this week, according to police and federal officials.
Witnesses described the home-built craft as flying about 100 to 200 feet over the
treetops when it suddenly plummeted into trees near a gravel pit along the Alaska
Railroad tracks at about 3 p.m., said Clint Johnson, a National Transportation Safety
"It was a very quick event," Johnson said. "Witnesses indicated that the airplane
essentially nose-dived, actually became inverted, and then went into the trees from
Johnson said the pilot was the sole person on board. He was not identified Friday
pending notification of next of kin.
It was unclear where the pilot came from or where he was going, Johnson said. The
man apparently had not filed a flight plan.
Nor did the pilot radio regarding any distress before the accident, Johnson said,
and, judging from witness accounts, the plane went down too quickly for any radio
communication during the descent.
The Challenger 2 airplane, a single-engine home-built model, was equipped with a
"ballistic" parachute release device that did not deploy prior to the crash, Johnson
said. That explosive device remained intact with the wreckage for some time Friday
afternoon as a layer of dead leaves soaked up the spilled jet fuel. A mechanic who
works for the Federal Aviation Administration came and diffused it without incident,
The wreckage did not burn following the crash, unlike an accident Wednesday in which
a plane went down near Merrill Field, claiming two lives. Thomas Blake, 55, and
his wife, Paulette Blake, 64, died when their Cessna 206 lost power and nose-dived
into an unoccupied building. The cause of that crash is still under investigation.
By Friday evening, Johnson had started examining the mangled wreckage at Eklutna
to determine what went wrong. Though the crash took place as a front of stormy weather
was moving in on Anchorage, the weather in Eklutna at the time was not bad and it
appeared not to have been a factor, he said.
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.
Authorities identify airplane crash victim
Anchorage Daily News, October 6th, 2008
EKLUTNA -- Anchorage police on Monday identified the body of a man killed when his
experimental aircraft crashed in woods near a gravel pit last week.
Wasilla resident Richard Roiland, 61, died after his Challenger 2 aircraft suddenly
took a nose dive in the area along the Alaska Railroad tracks at about 3 p.m. Friday,
The home-built aircraft was traveling west several hundred feet above the tree tops
when it went down, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which
is investigating the crash.
Federal investigators say Roiland did not make a radio distress call before the
crash and that the aircraft appears to have gone down too quickly for him to deploy
a rocket-propelled parachute it was equipped with.
Weather does not appear to have been a factor. The investigation is continuing.