UPDATE: 3:00 p.m. Jan. 31 by Shady Grove Oliver, KBBI – Homer
Three people aboard a plane that crashed near the Kenai Peninsula on Sunday have been found.
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak located the plane about 6 p.m. Monday.
“There were no injuries reported by any of the three people at the site of the crash,” Chief Petty Officer Shawn Eggert said. “Our crew was able to land and pick those people up and transport those people back to Anchorage, where they were picked up by waiting emergency medical personnel.”
The passengers, identified on Facebook by the Alaska District Church of the Nazarene as Josh Smith, his daughter Danielle, and John White of the Soldotna Nazarene community, were then reunited with their families.
The flight was traveling from Lake Hood to Soldotna on Sunday.
When it didn’t arrive on time, family members reported it overdue.
The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center along with Civil Air Patrol crews searched by air Sunday and Monday, but were not able to locate the crash.
The center asked the Coast Guard for assistance on Monday.
The Jayhawk crew used the Cessna’s emergency locator beacon to trace the flight to the west side of Cook Inlet.
“Someone down on the ground fired a flare up that the pilot of the helicopter was able to see,” Eggert said.
The plane had landed in deep snow on a ridgeline near the Chakachatna River and flipped over.
The passengers spent about 24 hours at the site before they were found and rescuers credit the pilot’s emergency preparedness with their well-being.
“You know, cell phone signals (are) not always the best here. So, having a functioning radio, whether you’re on board a boat or an aircraft of some sort, having signaling devices such as mirrors and flares, even smoke signals, things like that are going to be very important should an emergency occur,” Eggert said.
The cause of the crash has not yet been determined.
UPDATE: 3:24 a.m. Jan. 31 by the Associated Press
Officials say three people were found “alive and well” when a missing aircraft was located.
The airplane was reported missing Sunday on a flight from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula.
Anchorage television station KTVA reports that the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center confirmed that the plane was found Monday.
The station says the Coast Guard confirms three people were found with the plane and were “alive and well” and taken to an Anchorage hospital Monday evening.
Clint Johnson of the National Transportation Safety Board says that the airplane took off Sunday.
The report didn’t say where the plane was found or what had happened to it. No other information was immediately available.
The Coordination Center led the search.
A search and rescue operation is underway for three people aboard a flight that went missing yesterday in Southcentral.
The Cessna 180 departed Lake Hood Sunday afternoon en route to the Kenai Peninsula. The flight was reported overdue later that day.
Shortly thereafter, calls began coming in to the Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson about an emergency locator signal transmitted from the area.
Staff Sergeant Edward Eagerton is a public affairs specialist with the Alaska Air National Guard. He said the guard sent out two HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters each with a team of Guardian Angel para-rescuemen.
“So they launched yesterday and searched through the day, through the night, and were unable to find them,” Eagerton said. “They had to return to base, refuel, re-set, that kind of thing, and are continuing to search today.”
Alaska’s Civil Air Patrol is also assisting with the search.
As of Monday (Jan. 30) afternoon, there were no official ground searches underway.
The passengers and pilot have not yet been identified.
However, the Alaska District Church of the Nazarene posted on Facebook last night that three of its Soldotna area members may have been on board.