These were our biggest and most popular stories of 2019

Eric and Pam Bealer, who lived outside of the tiny Southeast Alaska fishing town of Pelican, stand with the “Luna,” a dory that Eric Bealer built by hand. They went missing late last year. (Photo courtesy Eugene Solovyov)

Wildfires, plane crashes, an incredible fraud scheme, the sale of a major oil company and a mysterious disappearance in Southeast Alaska are just some of the stories that found the largest audiences online in 2019. Take a look:

Friends went looking for a missing Southeast Alaska artist. Instead, they found a note.

Eric Bealer, a renowned Southeast Alaska wood block artist, was expected back from his remote summer cabin by the end of September along with his wife, Pam.

By early October, no one had heard from them. So two friends went out to the cabin, on the outer coast of Yakobi Island.

Senior employee, APD officer embezzled $7.3M from ConocoPhillips, according to civil filing

Oil company ConocoPhillips is suing its former senior drilling and wells planner and a small group of co-conspirators, including an Anchorage police officer, for a scheme in which they allegedly embezzled nearly $7.3 million.

‘Do they know that it’s that bad?’ Drivers describe ‘hellfire’ on Sterling Highway

Marina Brooks was traveling the Sterling Highway from Anchorage to her home in Anchor Point Sunday night with her husband and three children, when shifting winds drove the Swan Lake fire toward the road.

Ketchikan planes in mid-air crash both had equipment designed to help avert collisions. What went wrong?

Many airlines have installed expensive equipment to help avert mid-air collisions. And after a crash that killed six people, one big question for investigators is why equipment to avert a disaster failed.

Spc. Austin Deehan on a motorcycle he believed he had purchased from a south Anchorage dealership (Photo courtesy Spc. Austin Deehan)

A soldier tried to buy a motorcycle in Anchorage. His lawyer says he was targeted by a ‘yo-yo scam’

Though hardly a blockbuster piece of litigation, a suit filed in Anchorage highlights something federal regulators, lawyers, and financial services observers say is commonplace: nationally, military service members are frequent targets for credit and financing scams.

Passenger on Unalaska flight recounts crash landing: ‘He’s not going to stop — we’re going into the water’

Patrick Lee, 57, was on the plane returning home with his wife, daughter and granddaughter Thursday night. He said the approach was bumpy. The engines reversed and the flaps went up, Lee said. But the plane never slowed down.

BP moves to exit Alaska, relinquishing role as operator of Prudhoe Bay

One of Alaska’s “Big Three” oil companies stepped entirely away from its major role in the state, leaving its position as the company that oversees Prudhoe Bay and its partial ownership of the trans-Alaska pipeline. 

Mark Begich, frustrated by rural Alaska’s exorbitant prices, is opening a grocery store in Utqiagvik

When Mark Begich was a U.S. senator, he took visiting dignitaries on trips to rural Alaska. Every time, he said, he’d drag them into the village store, to show just how much residents had to pay for laundry detergent or a gallon of milk.

Galen Huntsman and Arianne Swihart with their three children, Tobie, Azriel, and Aurora, in the one-room apartment the family shares at Safe Harbor, a supportive housing facility for families transitioning out of homelessness. (Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media, Anchorage)

‘We’re gonna be out on the streets’: Anchorage readies for a homeless crisis

The mayor of Anchorage declared a civil emergency over concerns that the state’s fiscal crisis will cause hundreds of residents to lose access to basic shelter. 

Protest interrupts governor at AFN, reveals fissures over appropriate dissent among attendees

Alaska Native groups have feuded with Dunleavy over his proposals to sharply cut government programs important to rural Alaska, setting a tense backdrop for this year’s convention which has the theme, “Good Government, Alaska Driven.”

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