Opinion: Ted Stevens plane crash also involving former NASA head Sean O’Keefe -- and some history


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Former Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and ex-NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe were with seven others aboard a small aircraft that crashed Monday night in southwest Alaska.

Recovery operations were underway by the Alaska National Guard. Initial reports said five of the nine aboard had died. The identities of the dead and survivors have not been released.


(UPDATE: 11:16 a.m. News reports confirm Stevens was among the dead while O’Keefe and his son, Kevin, survived.)

The rugged wilds of Alaska can be a very dangerous place to fly over in small planes, which many do. Stevens wife Ann, in fact, died in a 1978 crash that the senator survived.

Iconic social commentator and comedian Will Rogers died in an Alaska plane crash in 1935, as did Louisiana Democrat Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., then the House Majority Leader.

The plane carrying Boggs, the father of longtime broadcast commentator Cokie Roberts, disappeared there in 1972 enroute from Anchorage to Juneau to a campaign fundraiser and was never found.

Boggs was declared legally dead in 1973, along with a fellow passenger Rep. Nick Begich. If that last name sounds familiar, it should. The deceased congressman was the father of Mark Begich, a Democratic former Anchorage mayor who now holds Stevens’ Senate seat.

Boggs was succeeded in the House by his wife, Lindy, and also by speculation that his death somehow involved a conspiracy over aborting the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Boggs was not a believer in the single bullet theory of the Warren Commission.

The Boggs crash lead to federal legislation mandating emergency locator beacons in all civil airplanes

Here’s a C-SPAN archive video showing both Stevens and O’Keefe during the latter’s Senate confirmation hearings in 2001 during the early days of George W. Bush’s presidency.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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