Pilot Was Bar Hopping Before Disappearance

NTSB incident report to remain open

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by Mike Ford

After a thorough investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board has reason to believe Palmer Pilot Brendan Mattingly crashed into Cook Inlet and died.

On October 12th the 27 year old Palmer man flew to Soldotna from Palmer with plans to return the following day.

After watching a hockey game with friends Mattingly went out drinking at a few bars. It was after midnight when a security guard at one of the establishments asked Mattingly to leave. The guard said the man seemed very intoxicated.

According to witnesses friends put Mattingly in a cab to take him back to his hotel. The driver of the cab told investigators Mattingly refused to exit the cab at the hotel, asking instead to be taken to the airport. The Palmer pilot was known to sleep in his plane from time to time.

Around 1:30 a.m. October 13th, Air Force radar tracked a plane believed to be Matteinlys taking off from Soldotna airport. Radar data showed the plane made a number of erratic turns as well as changes in altitude,speed and heading.

It was around 2:45 a.m. the plane was recorded on radar half way across cook inlet, then nothing.

According to the NTSB's Clint Johnson the report on this incident will remain open. "In this case we can't positively say that this was Mr. Mattingly's airplane. However, if you look at the facts and all the circumstances that led up to the departure, it most likely is his airplane. But still, the NTSB is ruling this a missing aircraft and it will remain that way indefinitely"