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AK Beat: Pilot of downed Piper aircraft rescued from Montague Island

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Montague plane crash: The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued a Piper PA-11 pilot who crashed off Montague Island, located at the entrance of Alaska’s Prince William Sound, on Thursday. The incident, which has left no sign of pollution so far and no casualties, comes four days after a DHC3 de Havilland Otter crashed, likely during takeoff from the Soldotna Municipal Airport, killing all 10 souls aboard. 

Fairbanksan wins prestigious arts award: Laurie Olin, a world-renowned landscape architect who grew up in Interior Alaska during mid-1940s and 1950s, received a National Medal of the Arts on Wednesday during a White House ceremony officiated by President Obama. The award is the highest national honor for the arts -- other winners this year include George Lucas and Herb Alpert. Olin attended Fairbanks High School and graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Greenpeace protesters climb London's "Shard": A group of six young women on Wednesday set out to climb The Shard, a tall office building towering 1,000 feet over the London skyline as part of a Greenpeace protest against Arctic drilling by Shell. Greenpeace has been extensively tweeting about the event.

As of about 9:15 a.m. Alaska time, 10 hours after that first tweet, the climbers were nearing the top, where Greenpeace said the climbers will "hang a huge work of art that captures the beauty of the Arctic." The Guardian reports that Royal Dutch Shell, which has drawn Greenpeace's attention with its plan to drill in the Alaska Arctic, has three offices in London, and the Shard is visible from all three.

Greenpeace was also livestreaming the climb here.

Troopers get new helicopter: A fully-loaded, $3.1-million rescue helicopter purchased by Alaska State Troopers has made its way to Anchorage, where it will be temporarily stationed until flying north to its permanent home in Fairbanks in February. The agency has been down one search-and-rescue copter since the similarly equipped Helo 1 hit the ground in a fiery crash at the end of March, killing three, including two troopers, one a veteran pilot with hundreds of successful saves under his belt. Troopers told the Alaska Dispatch that the new Eurocopter is not a replacement for Helo 1 because it had been purchased prior to the crash. Troopers have also picked up another copter, which is set to arrive in Alaska early next year. The state has hired a full-time civilian pilot to be posted in Anchorage, and two additional troopers are trained to fly the new purchase, but the department has yet to hire a civilian pilot for the Fairbanks post.

Multi-sport relay to benefit kids: On Friday, a group of federal, state and local criminal justice and public safety officials will begin an epic journey across Alaska to benefit children fighting life-threatening illnesses. The fourth-annual Alaska State Troopers Adventure Relay will begin at 9 a.m. in Seward and travel some 575 miles to Fairbanks. The trek consists of 35 legs of hiking, biking, running, kayaking, swimming and boating and features personnel from all corners of law enforcement, including troopers, Fairbanks Police Officers, IRS investigators, dispatchers, federal and state park rangers, Alaska National Guard members and FBI agents. The relay culminates at 5 p.m. Monday, July 15 with a celebratory event at the Fairbanks Police Department on Cushman Street.

Hickel, Hammond, Benson all honored: Wally Hickel, two-time Alaska governor and short-lived Secretary of Interior for President Richard Nixon, will live on in Alaska's heart -- and now on South Anchorage road signs. On Wednesday, Governor Sean Parnell signed House Bill 153, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Bob Lynn, which designates parts of Minnesota Drive and O’Malley Road as "The Walter J. Hickel Parkway," in honor of the big-dreaming Alaskan who passed away in May, 2010. Parnell also signed House Bill 130, establishing July 21 as Jay Hammond Day to honor the two-term governor who's considered the father of Alaska's Permanent Fund, and Senate Bill 31, which names the state airport in Kodiak the Benny Benson State Airport to commemorate the designer of Alaska's flag.  Benson was a 13-year-old student at Seward's Jesse Lee Children's Home when he created the winning design in 1927.