Airline agrees to settle claim for 2016 mid-air plane crash

Hageland Aviation has agreed to settle a claim brought by the victims of a 2016 mid-air crash for 2.5 million dollars.

Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures, based in Bethel, and the estate of one of its pilots, Zachary Babat, sued Hageland as a result of the 2016 mid-air crash near Russian Mission. The trial in that case was scheduled for April of this year in Bethel after long delays due to Covid.

The parties reached a settlement in March. Five people perished in the crash, which involved a Hageland Cessna Caravan and the Piper Super Cub flown by Babat for Renfro’s.

Kerry Pride of Montana brought the claim on behalf of her deceased husband Zachary Babat, and Wade Renfro brought the claim for his company, Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures. Renfro’s sued for financial losses to the company from the crash, and Pride sought a variety of damages, including loss of income from her husband’s art business as well as from flying.

Both claimants relied on a map which was created from equipment on board the aircraft which recorded the flight paths flown by each. Here is that map from the National Transportation Safety Board:

The Renfro’s Super Cub (yellow line) was traveling north at a steady altitude between 1,700 – 1,800 ft above mean sea level (msl) prior to the crash. The Hageland Caravan (white line) was flying northwest after departing the runway at Russian Mission about three minutes before the crash and was climbing.

Aviation experts employed in the case established that the Caravan pilot would have had a clear view of the Super Cub in front of him and to the left of his position in the cockpit. It was also clear that the Caravan was below and behind the Super Cub until the seconds before the crash, leaving Babat little chance to observe the Caravan.

Neither Hageland nor its pilot’s estate brought a claim against Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures or the Babat estate.