A mid-air collision between two small planes near Soldotna Friday morning killed seven people, including State Representative Gary Knopp. Knopp’s death was confirmed in a statement by the State House Majority several hours after the crash. State Troopers say Knopp was the sole occupant of one plane. The other plane was flown by a local pilot, and carried a guide from Kansas and four people from South Carolina. The collision happened around 8:30 Friday morning, about two miles northeast of the Soldotna Airport, and briefly closed part of the Sterling Highway. The FAA says the planes were a single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and a twin-engine Piper Aztec. The NTSB is investigating.
ADN reports Knopp was a flight instructor and pilot. He represented House District 30, which includes Kenai and Soldotna, after being elected in 2016. He previously had served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. The House Majority says Knopp moved to Alaska in 1979, spending time in Anchorage before moving to Kenai with his wife Helen.