Corey Carlson 2011-07-30
Hetty Barnett Carlson
Ella Carlson
Adelaide Carlson

Four die after planes collide in midair

By CASEY GROVE,, Published: July 30th, 2011

Four people died after a midair collision Saturday afternoon between two single-engine floatplanes at Amber Lake about 12 miles southwest of Trapper Creek, the Alaska State Troopers reported.

The lake is about 90 miles northeast of Anchorage.

One of the planes, a Cessna 180, crashed and burned. All aboard died as a result of the crash, said troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

Troopers were waiting for the State Medical Examiner's officer to confirm their identities before releasing any names of those who died.

The bodies have been recovered, said Peters.

The second plane, a Cessna 206, landed safely on a runway in Anchorage. Its pilot and lone occupant, Kevin Earp, 56, of Eagle River, was uninjured, Peters said. The plane's floats were heavily damaged in the collision, she said.

When the plane landed, it had a piece of debris tangled in its floats.

The planes hit each other about 2:15 p.m., Peters said. National Transportation Safety Board investigators believe the pilot of the Cessna 206 reported the collision and subsequent crash.

There are a few homes and recreational cabins around the lake, which is accessible by taking Petersville Road to Oil Well Road, said Dennis Brodigan, emergency services director for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

A rescue crew from Trapper Creek drove trucks, then four-wheelers, to get to the downed plane, Brodigan said.

"When our responders got on scene, the plane was fully engulfed in flames," he said. They used fire extinguishers to douse the flames, he said.

The pilot of the second plane decided to land in Anchorage, rather than at Amber Lake, which has limited or no capabilities to deal with an emergency, Brodigan said.

The second plane had landed by 3:30 p.m. on a hard-surface runway at Stevens International Airport, said NTSB investigator Larry Lewis.

Such landings -- floats skidding across a paved runway -- are not out of the ordinary in an emergency, said airport manager John Parrott.

"It was as uneventful as it could be," Parrott said.

The airport's north-south runway was closed for the emergency landing from about 3:15 to 4:30 p.m., Parrott said.

The plane was removed from the runway and investigators talked with the pilot, Lewis said by phone. The investigator said he was driving north to the crash site late Saturday.

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.
Floatplane collision kills longtime Alaska family of four

FAMILY: Carlsons considered little Cessna their 'minivan,' says sister.

By LISA DEMER, Anchorage Daily News |, Published: August 1st, 2011

The midair collision Saturday near Trapper Creek killed a family of four with long roots in Alaska.

The pilot was Corey Carlson, a former Anchorage high school hockey star and scholarship college player; his wife, Hetty Barnett Carlson, whose family goes back generations here; and their two young children, Ella, 5 and Adelaide "Addie," 3, Corey's father, Don Carlson of Anchorage, said Sunday.

Troopers are waiting for the state medical examiner to positively identify the four before officially releasing the names.

But authorities told the parents of both Corey and Hetty Carlson Saturday evening that "they were all gone," Don Carlson said.

The two floatplanes collided about 2:15 p.m. Saturday near Amber Lake, about 12 miles southwest of Trapper Creek.

The second plane, a Cessna 206, was flown by Kevin Earp, 56, of Eagle River. Its floats were heavily damaged but Earp, a veteran Alaska Airlines captain, was able to get to Anchorage and safely land on a runway at Stevens International Airport, according to troopers.

Corey Carlson was flying his Cessna 180, which crashed and burned on the ground. The only part left was the tail section, according to a National Transportation Safety Board investigator.

Carlson, 41, had planned to go to Lake Clark, where Hetty's family has a cabin, but the weather in that area wasn't good and the mountain pass to the lake can be treacherous. So he headed north to Amber Lake instead.

As Carlson and his family were leaving Lake Hood, Hetty's parents, David and Diane Barnett, were flying back from Lake Clark, trying to get ahead of the weather.

"We passed them, them going out, us coming in," David Barnett said.

Carlson and his father-in-law heard each other on the radio getting clearance from the tower.

Maybe 30 minutes later, all four members of the young Carlson family were dead.


Witnesses told the National Transportation Safety Board that the Cessna 206 had taken off from a smaller nearby lake and was turning west toward Amber Lake to pick up a relative as the 180 was flying by, said Larry Lewis, National Transportation Safety Board investigator.

Along with a place at Lake Clark, the Barnett family has a small cabin at Amber Lake that Hetty's grandfather built. Carlson likely was preparing to land there for a few hours of fun on shore when the planes collided, David Barnett said.

The weather was good, but it is hard for a pilot to spot another small plane in the sky, Lewis said. Almost three weeks earlier, two planes hit midair in Lake Clark Pass. In that case, both pilots managed to land safely in Anchorage.

Earp told an investigator "he saw the aircraft at the very last instant and tried to steer away from him but couldn't," Lewis said. It appears the other pilot never saw Earp's plane, Lewis said.

The planes were at right angles to each other, like cars pulling up to a four-way stop, except both were moving.

"If you are level with each other, the mountains in the background would obscure the airplane in front of you," Lewis said. "90 degrees to each other -- it's a pretty small target."

Lewis said he's just beginning his investigation. He inspected the crash site Saturday and planned to do a follow-up interview with Earp.

Earp has been with Alaska Airlines 30 years. He has logged 17,000 hours flying Boeing 737s, plus thousands of hours more in other planes, according to spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. Efforts to reach Earp Sunday were unsuccessful.


Family members and friends were struggling Sunday to absorb the sudden loss of a couple who seemed to have everything going their way.

Carlson had lived in Alaska since he was 5. He was a standout hockey forward for Service High, and was among the first generation of Alaskans who went Outside to play junior league hockey. He landed a full scholarship at the University of Denver, a Division I school, but suffered a back injury that affected his playing. He earned a master's degree in business and came home to Alaska.

Carlson worked as an Anchorage-based manager for a branch of GE involved in oil and gas production, his father said.

He immersed himself in the pursuits that draw so many here.

"Hunting, fishing, catching shrimp, skiing down the mountains and doing all that young stuff," Don Carlson said. "And when he got married, he decided to get an airplane. He always wanted to fly."

Hetty, 39, was a fourth-generation Alaskan, a graduate of West High School and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, David Barnett said. She returned to Anchorage and worked as a pharmaceutical company representative.

She and Carlson married in Hawaii eight years ago, and when their girls were born, she stayed home to take care of them. Carlson doted on them too and was wonderful to Hetty, Barnett said. They were the dream family.

"It was just too good to be true," Barnett said. "It just doesn't get any better. You just thank God for the things like that."

About six years ago, Carlson began flying. The couple and their girls loved going out in the plane, relatives said.

"That was their minivan," said his sister, Kim Bonebrake, who flew up from Vancouver, Wash., when she heard about the crash. People Outside don't get how important, and common, small planes are up here, she said.

On Saturday, the family clearly planned to be gone just a few hours because they left their beloved dog, Amber, in the yard, Don Carlson said.

Was the dog named after the lake? "No, after the beer," Don Carlson said, chuckling a little.

On Saturday evening, all four parents -- David and Diane Barnett, Don and Pat Carlson -- gathered at the Barnett home, where authorities confirmed what they feared.

Don Carlson said Sunday he was focusing on the many tasks that had to be done. He was trying not to lose himself in grief: "It's almost more than I can handle."

Reach Lisa Demer at or 257-4390.