3 aboard plane missing on flight out of Anchorage found alive

NOTE: This story has been updated. Find the latest version here.


 Search-and-rescue crews Monday found an airplane and its three passengers reported overdue on a flight from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula on Sunday evening.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, confirmed the plane had been found. Johnson did not have details on the conditions of the three survivors, who were being flown to an Anchorage hospital.

Johnson said earlier that the small plane was flying from Lake Hood in Anchorage to a destination in the Soldotna area. Word that it hadn't landed came in at about 6 p.m. Sunday.

"It was actually family members who reported them overdue," Johnson said.

NTSB investigator Noreen Price said the plane took off from Anchorage at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, but reports on its exact destination were conflicting. Federal Aviation Administration documents indicate the plane was most likely headed for the Kenai Municipal Airport, Price said.

"We do know that they were headed to the Soldotna area, but we don't know what exact route they took," Price said.

Civil Air Patrol spokesman Maj. Brian Emerson said that CAP pilots assisted in the search for the missing aircraft – a silver Cessna 180.

The volunteer search pilots pulled out of the area as the day continued due to low-hanging clouds perched over the western Kenai Peninsula, said Alaska Air National Guard spokesman Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton.

Eagerton said initial reports of the aircraft and its three overdue occupants coming in to the Anchorage-based Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were soon followed by calls indicating an emergency locator transmitter signal in the region.

"Within the hour, they also started receiving airborne reports of an ELT — planes flying however far above reported that they were picking up an ELT signal," Eagerton said.

Two HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crews responded Sunday night but were unable to find the transmitter's radio signal. Eagerton said it came from an older 121.5 MHz transmitter, which must be homed in on by search aircraft, rather than a newer 406 MHz model that sends an exact location to satellites.

As a result, Eagerton said, Monday's search area was "pretty much between here to Kenai."

Monday's search assets included two more HH-60 crews, Eagerton said. The U.S. Coast Guard sent its own helicopter to aid in the search, Eagerton said.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.