Former Fairbanks state Rep Mike Kelly dies in plane crash

first_imgFormer state Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, on Dec. 21, 2010. Kelly died Dec. 7, 2016, as a solo pilot in a plane crash 17 miles southeast of Fairbanks. (Creative Commons photo by James Brooks)UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. by Dan Bross, KUAC – FairbanksListen NowGovernor Bill Walker has ordered flags lowered to half-staff across the state in memory of former Republican State Rep. Mike Kelly of Fairbanks. Kelly, who was 74, died when his plane crashed south of Fairbanks on Wednesday. Kelly grew up in the Interior during the same era as Gov. Walker, but Walker said the two only got to know one another in recent years.”Our relationship really got more one-on-one in the last couple years,” Walker said. “It centered around the issue of energy, cost of energy. And he was relentless on bringing down the cost of energy in Interior Alaska. Of course, if it doesn’t benefit Interior Alaska, it doesn’t have a benefit outside Interior Alaska.”Walker said he regularly met with Kelly to discuss energy.“Sometimes I went to Fairbanks just to see him, just to spend time with him,” Walker said. “I always left my meetings with Mike Kelly much more upbeat about options that were available. It was just nice to have him as a resource out there.”During his six year tenure in the Alaska House from 2005 to 2011, Kelly was known for taking hard line stances on controversial issues, like reforming public employee retirement to reduce state liability. But Walker said Kelly was about more than politics.”If you just go back decades and look at the things he’s been with, his love of Alaska was a much broader area of focus,” Walker said.Walker’s order requiring state flags to fly at half staff in Kelly’s honor runs through sunset on December 14.Original post by Andrew Kitchenman, APRN and KTOO – Juneau:Former state Rep. Mike Kelly died Wednesday in a plane crash, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.The crash occurred around 1:30 p.m., 17 miles southeast of Kelly’s hometown of Fairbanks, on Fort Wainwright, according to the Alaska State Troopers. The troopers were waiting for the State Medical Examiner’s Office to confirm the identity of the person who died before releasing his identity, but Kelly’s wife, Cherie Kelly, told the News-Miner he had died.The pilot was alone, flying a small aircraft, according to the troopers. Kelly was 74 years old.Kelly was a Republican who served in the legislature from 2005 to 2011. Before then, he was the president and CEO of the Golden Valley Electric Association and worked as a commuter airline pilot. His brother, Pete Kelly, is a state senator and the new Senate president.Former lawmakers who served with Kelly said he was dedicated to the Interior and to the entire state.Former state Sen. Gene Therriault, a Fairbanks Republican, said Kelly was thoughtful and hardworking.“He was a fisherman, a hunter,” Therriault said. “He really embodied a good, tough Alaskan.”Former state Sen. Gary Wilken of Fairbanks said Kelly’s death was a great loss.“He was really a mile wide and a mile deep,” Wilken said. “He just had huge arms, a huge heart, and was just continually working to make this a better place.”A military helicopter happened to be flying in the area when the crash occurred, according to State Troopers. The crew heard the downed aircraft’s emergency locator beacon and responded. Military personnel confirmed the pilot had died.National Transportation Safety Board officials and Alaska State Troopers planned to arrive on the site of the crash to investigate Thursday morning.last_img

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