Alaskan Command operations director killed in civilian aircraft crash

by Vern Evans

An Air Force fighter pilot and colonel who served as the operations director for the U.S. military’s Alaskan Command was killed in an off-base crash involving a small civilian aircraft Tuesday, the Air Force said.

Air Force Col. Mark “Tyson” Sletten, 46, of Anchorage, was one of two people in a Piper PA-18 two-seat aircraft that crashed in Crescent Lake near Moose Pass on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. An underwater drone on Thursday found Sletten’s body, and that of a Utah man, 41-year-old Paul Kondrat, inside the aircraft, submerged under about 193 feet of water, Alaska state troopers said in a news release.

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

Two hikers witnessed the crash and notified emergency personnel. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

Alaskan Command is headquartered at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, about 100 miles from the lake where the aircraft crashed. The organization, which falls under U.S. Northern Command, oversees homeland defense missions and other operations spanning nearly 27,000 U.S. troops in Alaska.

Sletten had served as the command’s ops director since May 2021, according to a public LinkedIn profile. Before arriving in Alaska, the instructor pilot led the 8th Fighter Squadron, an F-16 Fighting Falcon training unit, at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, among other roles.

Sletten graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2000, according to LinkedIn.

Courtney Mabeus-Brown is the senior reporter at Air Force Times. She is an award-winning journalist who previously covered the military for Navy Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and more.

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