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A wedding flyover that turned tragic. A commuter flight that mysteriously veered off course and slammed into a mountain. A pilot and passenger who survived a crash only to succumb to the raging currents of an icy waterway. These are just a few of roughly 100 aircraft accidents that occurred in Alaska in 2015 and challenged one of the busiest and most unique offices of the National Transportation Safety Board. Follow NTSB investigators as they attempt to determine the probable cause of each crash, be it man, machine, or environment.

Sunday 9:00 PM et/pt on Smithsonian Channel
1 Season, 6 Episodes
March 13, 2016
6.2/10
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Alaska Aircrash Investigations Full Episode Guide

  • A 23-year-old pilot's Cessna plunges nose first into a public road near Big Lake, and investigator Millicent Hoidal must piece together the evidence remaining from the fiery crash. A set of missing logbooks and a propeller with no serial number complicate the investigation, which must rely on a deep dive into the young pilot's history and training to determine the final cause of the disaster.

  • Newcomer Shaun Williams gets a report at midnight of a downed plane in a local bay, but by dawn, the aircraft has disappeared under the waters of Knik Arm. With rescuers and helicopters attempting to recover the wreckage, Williams tries to determine what caused the plane to plunge only two miles before its planned landing. When the fatal crash is pulled from the water, the NTSB rules out mechanical problems, leaving the possibly damaged GPS as the only evidence that might solve the mystery.

  • A tourist flight crashes just after takeoff from a remote fishing lodge, killing several passengers. The wreckage layout reveals that neither the airframe nor the engine caused the crash. Now the "Go Team" must launch a probe into the bizarre noises described by the survivors in the last minutes of the flight, and painstakingly determine whether the aircraft was overloaded past its weight limit.

  • When a Cessna 180 crashes on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, two lives are lost ... along with nearly all the evidence. After a terrible post-crash fire, investigator Shaun Williams must piece together eyewitness accounts from a grieving community, and compare that with the surviving pieces of wreckage. It takes a trip to an Alabama engine factory and back to Alaska to begin to make sense of the mysterious final sounds of the aircraft.

  • Senior investigator Brice Banning goes to the site of an Alaska tragedy: a bush pilot flying over his daughter's wedding party, who fatally crashed into nearby trees. Meanwhile, investigator Millicent Hoidal looks into a crash near the remote town of Bethel and uncovers a troubling medical issue that could have contributed to the pilot's fatal flight.

  • When a recent transplant to Alaska crashes a commuter plane west of Juneau, Chris Shaver launches an investigation to see whether the fatal crash was caused by mechanical issues or pilot error. On-scene investigation and a wreckage layout provide few clues. But recovered in-flight data reveals an unusual flight path, which might uncover the true cause of the tragedy.

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