Frank Dinello, 09-11-08

One dead, one missing after plane crash

Anchorage Daily News, September 11th, 2008

A Big Lake man is dead and his passenger missing after an airplane went down in the wilderness near Talkeetna, Alaska State Troopers said Thursday.

Frank Dinello, 48, was killed when his Piper Super Cub crashed in foul weather in an area east of town, troopers said.

Dinello's plane took off from the Talkeetna airport at 4 p.m. Wednesday with a hunter on board. They were heading to a camp about 40 miles east. Dinello was planning to return to pick up a second hunter but never came back to the airport, troopers said.

The pair was reported missing to troopers at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

An initial aerial search of the area was turned back because of bad weather. A search by the Civil Air Patrol resumed Thursday morning and found the crash site. Dinello had been killed, but the hunter was not there, troopers said.

It was unclear if Dinello had dropped the hunter off before the crash or if the hunter had walked away from it. The search was continuing.

Big Lake pilot dies in crash; passenger saves self for rescue

Daily News and wire reports, September 13th, 2008 01:27

TALKEETNA -- A 48-year-old Big Lake pilot died and his passenger was injured after their small plane crashed near Talkeetna.

Frank Dinello was the pilot of the Super Cub that crashed after taking off from Talkeetna on Wednesday afternoon. His passenger, Mel Morton, 51, of Eagle, Idaho, was found injured five miles from the site, said Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.

The plane crashed and burned 40 miles east of Talkeetna, troopers say. Morton extinguished the flames on himself, then turned to Dinello and did the same. He attempted CPR on Dinello for several minutes but was not able to revive him.

Morton spent Wednesday night at the plane waiting for help. By Thursday morning, when none arrived, he decided to walk 10 miles to where he believed there was a hunting site. He made it five miles before the pain from his injuries overtook him. He made a fire to stay warm, troopers said.

Rescuers found him Thursday night and transported him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

The crash is under investigation.