Search for missing plane with Salcha couple onboard continues

Searchers continued combing a vast swath of Alaska's Interior for a small plane missing since Sunday with a well-known Salcha couple onboard.

The missing pilot is Art Ward, said Margie Steigerwald, the public information officer for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. His wife, Ann Ward, 59, was also onboard the Piper PA-18 Super Cub.

The couple took off from Salcha, southeast of Fairbanks, sometime between noon and 1 p.m. Sunday, said Candis Olmstead, director of public affairs for the Alaska National Guard.

The couple was heading to their homestead, which is west of McCarthy, and they were expected to arrive that same afternoon, Olmstead said.

A family member contacted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center on Monday to report the plane overdue.

Steigerwald said Ward, 63, is a pilot and a game guide in the Brooks Range, and is known in the McCarthy community and Alaska hunting and aviation circles.

Ward and his wife own property south of Salcha. While it's believed they were flying to the McCarthy area, their exact destination is unclear, Steigerwald said.


The Alaska Air National Guard was also searching with help from four Civil Air Patrol planes and two Marine Corps aircraft.

A National Park Service plane and several McCarthy-area air taxi and lodge airplanes were also involved in the search Tuesday.

Reporter Laurel Andrews contributed to this report.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.