A Bald Mountain Air Service plane taking off from an Arctic ice airstrip March 20, 2018, during a Navy training exercise injured a man by hitting him in the head, causing visible damage to the plane. Now federal investigators say the pilot was at fault. (National Transportation Safety Board photo)
Travis Major thought he had an understanding with the pilot about to take off from an ice airstrip near Deadhorse during a U.S. Navy submarine training exercise last year.
Major told federal investigators he figured he'd be safe along the floating runway while taking a picture of the plane's departure framed by Lego figures on a snow berm — a souvenir for his children.
The Bald Mountain Air Service plane took off for Deadhorse with two pilots and three passengers — researchers involved in the military exercise — around 7:45 that March evening.
But instead of providing a photo opportunity, witnesses told the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane made a low turn and struck Major on the head, nearly ripping off his scalp, according to the agency's final report on the incident released recently.