Air Force Colonel in Alaskan Command Was Killed when Civilian Airplane Crashed into Alaska Lake

Then Lt. Col. Mark Sletten
Then Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, Alaskan Command J3 Director of Operations visits Colony Glacier, Alaska, June 23, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenny Scarle)

An Air Force colonel who was the director of operations for Alaskan Command was one of two people killed in a civilian airplane crash in the state earlier this week, officials confirmed Friday.

Col. Mark "Tyson" Sletten, 46, was reported missing Tuesday after two hikers witnessed a plane crash at Crescent Lake near Moose Pass on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and contacted state troopers. By Thursday, his body had been recovered and he was confirmed among the deceased on the aircraft.

"The news has been devastating for all of us here at Alaskan Command, and the loss of Tyson is being felt throughout our community," Lt. Gen. David Nahom, the head of Alaskan Command, said in a news release Friday. "Right now, our priority is taking care of his family and our teammates that were close to Tyson."

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Sletten was in a Piper PA-18 Super Cub, a small, civilian two-seater airplane, alongside Paul Kondrat, a 41-year-old Utah resident.

A search team consisting of the Alaska Army National Guard and professional volunteers from the Alaska Dive Search, Rescue and Recovery Team located the crashed plane Thursday in nearly 200 feet of water.

"Both Paul Kondrat and Mark Sletten were found inside of the plane deceased," the Alaska Department of Public Safety said in a statement. "Their bodies were transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy. Next of kin have been notified."

The Anchorage Daily News reported that the plane was operated by Alaska Float Ratings and that Kondrat was a certified flight instructor with the company.

Sletten was the director of operations for Alaskan Command, or ALCOM, which is a subordinate group of U.S. Northern Command based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. It's responsible for joint operations among 16,000 Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard personnel in the state.

According to photo archives in the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, Sletten also previously served as the 8th Fighter Squadron commander at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. That squadron was reactivated in 2017, and Sletten was part of the leadership that revived the F-16 Fighting Falcon training unit. Sletten identified himself as a fighter pilot on his LinkedIn page.

"Our mission is to build the future of air power and to lead the Air Force in developing airmen while training F-16 fighter pilots," Sletten said in a 2017 press release. "My goal is to produce airmen and fighter pilots who are first and foremost professionals, and who are lethal and passionate when it comes to their craft."

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating to determine the cause of the crash, according to the Division of Alaska State Troopers.

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