Search underway for plane missing out of Valdez

A search is underway for an overdue single-engine plane missing since Monday after the pilot left Valdez en route to Sutton, authorities say.

Alaska State Troopers said they received a report of an overdue aircraft with one person on board and notified the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center just after 8:20 p.m. The red and white Aeronca Champion aircraft was reported to have left Valdez around 5 p.m., with an expected arrival time of 6:30 p.m.

“It did not arrive,” said Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska chief.

Troopers said later Tuesday that they believe the plane was being piloted by Andy Andersen of Sutton.

Bad weather in the area including heavy cloud cover was hampering search efforts as of Tuesday afternoon, officials said. Assets from the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Army National Guard, along with troopers and the rescue coordination center, were involved. Aircraft were searching as weather permitted, troopers said.

On Monday, there were scattered thunderstorms in the area between Valdez and Glennallen across the general area where a plane might have traveled between Valdez and Sutton, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Lawson.

Andersen, 38, built a backyard racetrack that spawned numerous champion youth motocross racers, including his son, and eventually became Valley Rally Raceway, a youth motocross hub. Andersen has a student pilot certificate, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.