Updated 12:37 p.m.
FAIRBANKS - A helicopter that crashed Tuesday outside of Delta Junction was used for exploration work for the nearby Pogo gold mine, according to a news release from the mine.
Alaska State Troopers identified the pilot as James Hopper, 63, a seasonal employee from Missouri, said trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen. Hopper’s next of kin have been notified.
Hopper was on the way to pick up some miners when for unknown reasons the helicopter crashed into a hillside, she said. He was the only one on board at the time of the crash and was declared dead on scene. The National Traffic Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.
The helicopter was a McDonnell Douglas 600N, a light single-turbine helicopter with eight seats. It was registered to Aurora Aviation Services in Delta Junction in May and was previously registered in Illinois. The Federal Aviation Administration lists 4:45 p.m. as the time of the crash.
"In this sad time our prayers and sincere condolences go to the family and colleagues of the pilot," said Pogo Mine General Manager Chris Kennedy in a written statement. "Right now our primary concern is to help the family and co-workers deal with their loss. We will provide support to the contractor and outside investigators to determine how and why the accident occurred."
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter, @FDNMcrime.