Air Force colonel identified as one of two killed in Alaska

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Peter Andrysiak, U.S. Army Alaska commander and Lt. Col. Mark Sletten (right), Alaskan Command J3 Director of Operations visit Colony Glacier, Alaska, June 23, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenny Scarle)

Tess Williams
Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

Two men died Tuesday afternoon during an instructional flight when their small plane crashed into Crescent Lake on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska State Troopers said.

Two hikers witnessed the crash and reported it to troopers just after 2:10 p.m., the agency said. Troopers said they, along with representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, responded to the area around 3:30 p.m. using a helicopter and float plane and spotted debris in the lake, but saw no signs of survivors.

A plane had been reported overdue in the area with two men aboard, troopers said. The Piper PA-18 Super Cub had departed from Moose Pass and was expected to return to the same area, troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said.

Troopers on Wednesday evening identified the plane’s occupants as Anchorage resident Mark Sletten, 46, and Utah resident Paul Kondrat, 41.

Air Force Colonel Mark “Tyson” Sletten is the director of operations for the Alaskan Command, according to the Associated Press.

The Alaskan Command, located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, conducts homeland defense missions, civil support and security. It is part of the U.S. Northern Command.

An Alaska Air National Guard rescue team responded to the scene but was not able to locate either of the men, troopers said.

Efforts to recover their bodies continued Wednesday. Search teams using helicopters, divers, boats and sonar were still in the field Wednesday evening looking for the men, troopers said. Alaska Rescue Coordination Center teams and a Department of Public Safety helicopter also searched Crescent Lake and have so far been unsuccessful, troopers said.

The float-equipped plane was operated by Alaska Float Ratings, which has common ownership with Scenic Mountain Air, according to Clint Johnson, chief of the National Transportation Safety Board Alaska office. The company did not respond to a message on Wednesday.

The NTSB is investigating the crash. Johnson said the wreckage will eventually be transported to Anchorage after it is recovered. Crescent Lake is deep and it was unclear how long recovery efforts could take, he said.

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