No survivors expected after wreckage of plane crash found in Denali National Park

No one is expected to have survived a plane crash Wednesday in a narrow ravine in Denali National Park and Preserve, authorities say.

The plane’s wreckage was found Thursday morning after the flight was reported overdue late Wednesday, according to the National Park Service.

It wasn’t clear whether passengers were aboard the plane at the time of the crash, officials said. The plane was a Piper PA-18 Super Cub, according to Clint Johnson, Alaska chief for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The pilot was transporting hunters, Johnson said. There was no additional information as of Thursday afternoon about whether any passengers were in the plane at the time of the crash, however.

The National Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center initiated a search for the overdue aircraft late Wednesday using coordinates from a locator beacon associated with the overdue pilot, the Park Service said. The center launched an aircraft but the flight turned around due to bad weather.

The crew of a Pave Hawk with the 176th Wing of the Alaska National Guard began the search mission Wednesday night, according to Guard spokesman Alan Brown.

They located the wreckage in the park’s southwest preserve area, the Park Service said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The search crew was unable to land at the accident site due to the steep terrain, but they observed that survivability of the crash was unlikely,” the statement said.


A second flight launched Thursday morning found the wreckage, the Park Service said.

Park rangers, in coordination with the National Transportation Safety Board, plan to fly to the site Friday afternoon.

The Park Service was en route to the crash site Thursday afternoon to assess the safety of any site visit to begin the crash investigation, Johnson said.

The park’s southwest preserve is a highly remote area that includes the Yentna River Valley. Sport hunting is legal in the preserve.

Zaz Hollander

Zaz Hollander is a veteran journalist based in the Mat-Su and is currently an ADN local news editor and reporter. She covers breaking news, the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at zhollander@adn.com.