Robert Hendrickson, 08-06-07
Julianne Hendrickson
Emily Hendrickson
Linda Kundair

Investigation begins into Sitka plane crash that killed 4

HIT A HOUSE: New Jersey man, his two daughters and fiancee all were killed.

The Associated Press

Published: August 8, 2007

JUNEAU -- Four people who died when a single-engine airplane crashed into an empty home in the coastal community of Sitka were identified by police late Tuesday, while the investigation into the crash's cause got under way.

Killed were Robert Hendrickson, 45, and his daughters Julianne, 14, and Emily, 9, said Sitka Police Lt. Barry Allen. Also killed in the crash was Hendrickson's fiancee, Linda Kundair, 34. All were living in different New Jersey towns, Allen said.

Their families have been notified, he said.

The group left New Jersey last Friday, Allen said.

Their bodies were in Sitka police custody Tuesday evening, Allen said, though it was unclear whether they would undergo an autopsy.

"We actually will be turning them over as quickly as possible, but we do have a bit more work to do," he said.

Allen said it was too early to have any indication of why the plane crashed.

The investigation was turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board, which dispatched personnel to the site immediately after the crash.

Jim La Belle, the NTSB's regional director for Alaska, said the single-engine Piper departed Victoria, British Columbia, Monday morning and was heading to the Sitka airport when it went down.

Witnesses told investigators the plane circled the area twice before "making a fairly steep descent out of the clouds," La Belle said.

It was about 1 p.m., when the plane emerged from low-lying clouds just outside the Sitka's downtown, clipped some trees and plunged into a single-family home, witnesses and police said.

There were no injuries to anyone on the ground, but the crash was only a block from crowds of cruise ship passengers out shopping and sightseeing.

The home belonged to Tess Heyburn, who was sitting in a nearby restaurant, heard a loud noise and followed others running to the site.

The house and the plane caught fire and smoke was billowing throughout the neighborhood. The fire was contained to Heyburn's home.

There was concern that nearby propane tanks would get hot enough to explode, and that made access to the plane difficult after the fire was contained, Allen said.

The plane was owned by Hendrickson Aviation LLC, a Delaware corporation, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's registry.

Sitka, with a population of nearly 9,000, is located about 90 miles south of Juneau, on the west coast of Baranof Island fronting the Pacific Ocean.

Fatal crash blamed on pilot's misjudgment

The Associated Press, Published: July 2nd, 2008 09:06 AM

Federal transportation officials say a small plane crashed into a downtown Sitka house last year because the pilot became lost and disoriented.

The crash killed all four people onboard the plane including two children.

The National Transportation Safety Board released the findings this week.

The agency says the experienced pilot did not use an instrument approach that would have taken him over water and instead flew over downtown.

Killed along with pilot Robert Hendrickson, 45, were his two daughters, Julianne, 14, and Emily, 9, and his fiancee, Linda Kundair, 34, all of New Jersey.

Hendrickson was an instrument-rated pilot and had departed from Victoria, British Columbia, filing a flight plan to Sitka aboard his Piper Malibu.