Break in weather expands search for missing pilot near Yakutat

Zaz Hollander

After three days, the search for a plane last seen in Yakutat is still "very active" and helped by a break in the low clouds and bad weather, the Alaska National Guard said at about noon Thursday.

The break in the weather should allow six aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol to search the area, Guard spokesman Lt. Bernie Kale said. The CAP aircraft are flying out of Anchorage, Kenai and Valdez. They join an Air National Guard HC-130 and U.S. Coast Guard Jay Hawk helicopter also involved in the search, Kale said.

Pilot Alan Foster dropped off radar just after 4 p.m. Monday near the Malaspina Glacier, authorities said. Foster fueled up a Piper PA-32 Cherokee in Yakutat and took off for Anchorage but failed to arrive by 7 p.m. as planned.

Weather delays have frustrated searchers since Tuesday. The plane also had no emergency locator beacon registered to it, so the search is focusing on a broad area near the glacier.

There's no set time or date to end the air search and start a ground search, Kale said: "We don't look at when we need to end the search; we look at we need to keep looking, searching and find this aircraft."

Reach Zaz Hollander at or 257-4317.