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Ex-state legislator dies in small plane crash in Alaska

By Allen Cone
Ex-state legislator dies in small plane crash in Alaska
Mike Kelly, a Republican state representative in Alaska from 2004-10, died Wednesday in a small plane crash 17 miles southeast of Fairbanks. Photo by James Brooks/Wikimedia Commons/Flickr

FAIRBANKS, Alaska, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A former Alaskan state legislator died in a small plane crash, the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed.

Mike Kelly, a Republican state representative from 2004-10, was piloting the two-seater American Champion Citabria when it crashed Wednesday afternoon 17 miles southeast of Fairbanks on Fort Wainwright land, according to Clint Johnson, chief of the Alaska office of the NTSB. Kelly, 74, was the only person on board.

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Johnson said he didn't know where the plane had taken off and NTSB investigators were headed to Fairbanks on Thursday to investigate.

A military helicopter flying in the area heard the downed aircraft's emergency locator beacon and responded to the crash at 1:30 p.m.

Cherie Kelly said her husband's body will be flown to Anchorage before being returned to Fairbanks.

He was en route to the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizens Award Banquet in Fairbanks.

Kelly was an older brother of Sen. Pete Kelly, the incoming Alaska Senate president from Fairbanks.

Kelly worked for the Golden Valley Electric Association for 33 years, retiring in 2000. For the past 17 years, he was president and CEO of the electric utility cooperative.

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From 1991-91, he was a member of the University of Alaska Board of Regents, including two years as board president. He attended the University of Alaska, majoring in business management.

In the legislature, Kelly attempted to phase out pension-style retirements for public employees, which was opposed by organized labor and worked for his defeat to Democrat Bob Miller in November 2010.

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