– For Pilot in Stevens Crash, Flying Ran in the Family (New York Times)
Whatever problem the plane carrying former Senator Ted Stevens encountered before it crashed on Monday night, it was not pilot inexperience.
The pilot, Theron A. Smith, known as Terry, was a second-generation bush aviator and a 28-year veteran of Alaska Airlines, where fellow workers voted him a “Legend of Alaska” in 2001. He belonged to a flying family with a history of pioneering and of tragedy.
His father began flying in Alaska in the early 1940s. His wife, Terri Ellis Smith, a bush pilot herself, frequently co-piloted with him in their vintage Grumman. She is related to a founder of Ellis Air Lines, one of the carriers that merged to become Alaska Airlines.
And the Smith’s son-in-law, Maj. Aaron Malone, a pilot in the Alaska Air National Guard, was killed on July 28 in the crash of a C-17 cargo plane at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. Three other airmen were also killed in the crash. Major Malone was married to the Smith’s daughter, Melanie.
Another child, Brian M. Smith, is a private pilot.
The plane that Terry Smith was flying on Monday, a single-engine DeHavilland DHC-3T, owned by GCI, an Alaska telecommunications provider, was not nearly big enough to need a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder, so investigators will have to work without the “black boxes” to piece together what happened. And it was also flying in an area without radar coverage.
Former Senator Ted Stevens on Capitol Hill, September 27, 2008.
ANCHORAGE Alaska (Reuters) – Former Senator Ted Stevens, who for several years played a leading role in controlling the nation’s purse strings, died with four other people in a small plane crash in his home state of Alaska, officials said on Tuesday.
Four people survived Monday night’s crash near Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska. Among them was Sean O’Keefe, North American chief of European aerospace giant and Airbus maker EADS, and a former NASA Administrator who was a former aide and longtime friend of Stevens.
O’Keefe’s son, Kevin, also survived, the company said in a statement, but details of their condition were not disclosed.
Stevens, a gruff, hard-charging politician who rose to become chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, served 40 years in the Senate, longer than any Republican, before losing a 2008 reelection bid amid a corruption scandal.
He had been convicted days before the election on charges of failing to report over $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from an oil executive. The case was later thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct, including the withholding of exculpatory evidence from defense lawyers.
Stevens and O’Keefe, 54 and who once worked for the senator on the Appropriations Committee, were on a fishing trip in a remote part of Alaska with other former Senate staff members and their children, according to one congressional source.