Former Sen. Ted Stevens Dies in Alaska Plane Crash

Commuting on such small engine planes are a norm for Alaskans. Stevens survived another similar crash on Dec. 4, 1978, when a Learjet carrying Stevens and his wife crashed at Anchorage International Airport, killing five people. Stevens' wife Ann, was killed.

Nick Begich, who was Alaska's lone congressman in 1972, was also killed in a similar crash when his plane disappeared over the Gulf of Alaska with then-House Majority Leader Hale Boggs of Louisiana.

Ted Stevens Dies in Plane Crash

Given the dependency on air travel and the rugged terrain and flying conditions, Alaska has a relatively dismal safety record for air travel.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), from 1990 through 2008 there were 1,566 commuter and air taxi crashes in the United States. Alaska accounted for more than one-third of all those crashes -- 551 accidents -- and 20 percent of all the fatal crashes during that time.

That number does not included the count of private plane accidents, including the one Monday.

The FAA has been working to improve aviation in Alaska, testing a GPS satellite based navigation system. Tests of that system showed it reduced accidents by 47 percent. But it is likely that the plane carrying Stevens did not have this type of navigation system on it.

Friends of Stevens said he was traveling Monday to the GCI-owned Agulowak Lodge near Lake Aleknagik, the Anchorage Daily News reported earlier today.

Stevens was a Republican senator from the state from 1968 to 2009 and later was found guilty of failing to report gifts received when he was a senator.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder later decided to drop all charges against Stevens, vacating his conviction. Holder had cited serious prosecutorial misconduct during the trial. But the charges cost Stevens his career, making him the first longest serving senator to not win back his seat.

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