By JULIA O'MALLEY
Anchorage Daily News
Published: September 19, 2006
Two hunting buddies from Anchorage died Friday when their small
plane slammed into a mountainside on the edge of Denali National
Park and Preserve.
Investigators Monday recovered the remains of pilot Alex Stack, 38,
and his passenger, Aric Beane, 33, from the burned-out wreckage of a
deHavilland Beaver on a rocky slope several miles southwest of
Mystic Pass in the Alaska Range.
The men were on the way back from a hunting trip, having bagged a
moose in northwestern Alaska. They fueled up in Galena, on the Yukon
River, and planned to land at Merrill Field, according to Alaska
A Cessna 185 carrying other hunters from their party flew a mile
behind them and was in radio contact until shortly before the crash,
said Clint Johnson, an investigator with the National Transportation
The weather turned bad and the pilot of the second plane decided
to turn back, Johnson said.
Stack was flying through a narrow pass, he said.
"The last comment that (Stack) made, he was committed in the pass
and no longer could turn around and was going to proceed," Johnson
"Alex couldn't get the Beaver turned around," said Joireen Cohen,
a friend who spoke on behalf of the Stack family Monday night. "He
didn't have the room in there to get turned around."
The plane flew directly into the mountainside, Johnson said.
"The airplane came to an abrupt stop, fell ... down a steep
embankment and became lodged in the embankment," Johnson said.
"After the impact, there was a post-crash fire that pretty much
incinerated most of the fuselage."
The plane was reported overdue Saturday and sighted by Civil Air
Patrol searchers Sunday. A pararescue team reached the crash site
Saturday and confirmed that no one had survived.
On Monday, Johnson inspected the wreckage, scattered across a
rocky slide at 4,000 feet. The force of the crash had crumpled the
wings and sheared off the floats, he said.
A flight plan had not been filed. Investigators need to interview
the pilot of the second plane, Johnson said.
Stack, an avid outdoorsman, sold spinal-implant equipment to
Anchorage surgeons for the medical supply company Medtronic Sofamor
Danek. Beane was a civil engineer. Both men were married. Stack had
two young children. Beane was a father of one.
Dee Hanson, the executive director of the Alaska Airmen's
Association, was a friend of Stack's. The area of the crash is known
for unpredictable weather, she said.
"It can get bad," Hanson said. "It can get bad all of a sudden."
She remembers Stack as kind and energetic. When the
organization's landlord increased the rent several years ago, Stack
offered them a new space rent-free, she said.
"He was very generous," she said.
Will Blair, an outfitter who made annual fishing trips with Stack
to Kamchatka in the Russian Far East, said Stack cared deeply about
"He's one of these young guys who was full steam ahead," Blair
said from his home in California. "His friends meant everything to
him. God almighty, it's terrible."
A call to Beane's home was not immediately returned.
Friends and family gathered at the Stack home Monday night.
Services have not yet been planned, Cohen said. A neighbor, Cohen
knew both men.
"Both the guys were wonderful enthusiastic lovers of life," she
said. "Both were wonderful fathers."
Daily News reporter Julia O'Malley can be reached at
[email protected] or 257-4325.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.