FAA Flight Standards District Office: ANCHORAGE AL-03
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 180B
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
City: CHAKACHAMNA LAKE
Three survivors aboard a downed Cessna 180 take a photo with the Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60T Jayhawk crew who rescued them near a ridgeline landing strip in the vicinity of the Chakachatna River in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, Jan. 30, 2017. The three survivors reported no injuries.
KENAI – Three people were rescued after their plane crashed earlier this week. Pilot Josh Smith had his 72-year-old father-in-law and 12-year-old daughter on board with him during the incident.
He’d only been home one day after being rescued, but Smith was already writing his list of thank yous. The list of people who helped rescue him and his family is longer than he can even grasp.
“Everybody stepped up, and it’s quite a quite a humbling experience to see your whole community turn, and just help and to show that love. It’s there and it’s amazing,” Smith said. “It took them a lot of stress and effort and we are so thankful. We are very grateful for all of your efforts.”
They were efforts he never thought he would need when he left the Lake Hood Airport Sunday afternoon, heading home to Kenai with a sightseeing stop on the way.
“Made a little side trip to enjoy the beauty of the mountains there,” Smith explained. “Up at the top, top of the ridge there, just got a little beyond what I could do with the airplane and got stuck.”
It was stop on a ridgeline landing strip that he’s landed on before, but not under these conditions. The snow was too deep and while coming to a stop, the plane flipped. They were stranded with no way off the ridge. He said that’s when his survival instincts kicked in.
“We had food and just the bare minimum to stay warm,” Smith recalled. “We were able to get a fire going and get that established, and then put it out so if we needed it again we could get it fired right back up. We stayed inside the airplane to stay warm, just huddled up in our sleeping bags, and took turns rotating around to share heat.”
Smith said his daughter never complained once.
“But she did mention that maybe going on the scenic side trip was not a great idea, which she was right,” he acknowledged.
Back home, Smith’s wife wasn’t sure if her husband, daughter and father were alive.
“I got a report that they moved to the other side of the inlet and it just felt like they were chasing a ghost,” Melissa Smith explained.
“They didn’t have that certainty that we were alive and that’s a heavy load to put on your friends and family,” her husband added.
Pilots and volunteers searched using any leads and signals they could get, including the flare that finally led them to the family.
“I can tell you I’ve never seen a pretty helicopter than that one,” Josh Smith joked.
After 30 hours of waiting, Melissa Smith was hoping for good news.
“My mom called me and she’s just screaming and I can’t understand a single word she’s saying and so I’m kind of like panicking, like, ‘Is this a happy call or are you like terrified?’” she said of the day she got news of her missing family. “I’m finally, ‘Are you happy or sad, mom? Happy or sad?’ She’s like, ‘Happy!’ I’m like, ‘OK.’”
Her family was finally on their way home.
“It was a flight that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Josh Smith said. “And the sight of those Coasties coming up over the hillside is one I’ll never forget.”
He said it was an experience that’s left him with gratitude that will last a lifetime.
“God is good and he has worked through some amazing community in this situation to spare us and show us some mercy,” Josh Smith said.
While they are home rejoicing, Josh and Melissa Smith say with six kids, it was right back to the laundry and making lunches for school.
He did say going forward they are going to invest in an better emergency transmitter that would let searchers know their exact location, and he will also start filing a more exact flight plan. In case they are ever in a survival situation again, he will also probably pack the plane with higher quality sleeping bags and more food before the next trip.
Story, photo gallery and video: http://www.ktva.com
A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew located and rescued three survivors of a plane crash from a ridgeline landing strip in the vicinity of the Chakachatna River, in the Kenai Peninsula, Monday evening.
The Jayhawk crew landed, brought the three survivors aboard and transported them to awaiting emergency medical personnel at Anchorage International Airport. Both passengers and the pilot reported no injuries.
Watchstanders from the 17th Coast Guard District received notification of the crash from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center with a possible, approximate location of the fixed-wing Cessna at approximately 2 p.m. Monday. Watchstanders were told that the plane had been missing since Sunday afternoon and immediately directed the launch of the Jayhawk crew.
Within an hour, the Jayhawk crew arrived to the assumed position and were able to hear the planes Emergency Locator Transmitter over 406 megahertz radio. The Jayhawk crew used direction-finding equipment and, when in range, saw a flare shot by the pilot of the plane.
“This rescue was possible because of the joint effort put forth between the Coast Guard and Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and because the pilot was prepared with the necessary safety equipment,” said Lt. Joseph Plunkett, pilot aboard the Jayhawk rescue helicopter. “I can’t put enough emphasis on how crucial it is to have safety equipment whenever transiting through Alaska. Alaska is full of remote and often dangerous areas, and in this case, because the pilot was prepared, we were able to rescue the three people and bring them back to their family.”
Last updated at 10 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30
The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center has confirmed that a missing Cessna bound for the Kenai Peninsula was found Monday. All aboard were alive when rescuers found them, a spokesman confirmed.
The U.S. Coast Guard was contacted for assistance with the search on Monday, according to USCG Petty Officer John-Paul Rios. In a phone interview, he explained a USCG helicopter took off from Air Station Kodiak around 2:30 p.m. and found the missing plane about an hour later above the Chakachatna River, which empties into Cook Inlet northwest of the Kenai Peninsula.
“They said they landed up on a ridge line there but then the plane flipped because they landed in too-deep snow,” Rios explained.
The helicopter was able to land and load three people from the plane — a 41-year-old man, a 7-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, according to Rios. There were no other occupants.
The trio was flown to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, where emergency medical personnel waited. The victims’ identities have not been released, but Rios said a family member picked them up after they were medically evaluated. He said the group did not report any injuries and medical personnel also said they had no apparent injuries.
Rios said the plane had been reported missing roughly 24 hours beforehand on Sunday.
On Sunday, aviation officials confirmed a plane headed from Anchorage for the Kenai Peninsula went missing.
Clint Johnson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said in a phone interview that the flight took off from Lake Hood and was headed to the Kenai and Soldotna area.
When it failed to arrived, a search effort began, led by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, Johnson said. The ARCC said the mission was ongoing as of 9 p.m. Sunday.
Information about those likely aboard the plane was not immediately available from search officials, but the Alaska District Church of the Nazarene posted a statement regarding the missing flight to its Facebook page.
“Three of our Soldotna Naz. folkes (sic) are missing from an overdue flight,” the post read. “A beacon has been activated and located and a helicopter is in route (sic).”
Bruce Hardesty, the senior pastor for the Soldotna Church of the Nazarene, explained Monday that the beacon was sending out a signal, but as it was an older model, it did not relay the coordinates for the plane’s location.
Along with other planes and a helicopter assisting with the search, Hardesty said that some people have started looking for the plane via snowmachine.
Story and video: http://www.ktva.com
ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - In a Facebook message, a member of the Alaska District Church of the Nazarene tells KTUU's Blake Essig "all have been found alive and are being taken to Anchorage!! Thank everyone for praying with us, God has truly given us a miracle!!"
Blake Essig reports that the three were on board a helicopter heading to Anchorage for medical treatment.
They were found on the west side of Cook Inlet, near Chakachamna Lake.
"It's a miracle either way, but certainly nice to have a miracle in this direction," says Pastor Bruce Hardesty of the Soldotna Church of the Nazarene.
Family and friends gathered inside a Kenai Airport hangar Monday night to celebrate the good news.
Searchers had a hard time pinpointing the Cessna because it was equipped with a lower frequency ELT. Hardesty says a gnawing feeling came over family and friends that the three wouldn't be found.
"Maybe this isn't going to turn out well and then it grows and it becomes a very heavy weight to carry. Then when the news came all that pressure, all that burden just disappears, and we're rejoicing" says Hardesty.
No word on conditions of the three people.
At least three people are confirmed missing on Monday, after their plane was reported overdue on Sunday evening.
Clint Johnson with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the took off from Lake Hood in Anchorage.
Sources now confirm that the plane was headed to it's destination in Kenai.
Staff Sergeant Edward Eagerton with the 176th Wing says the search, which began Sunday night, continues Monday. Eagerton says the search has been continuous basically since the plane was reported overdue.
Two HH60 Pave Hawk helicopters have been mobilized to help with the search. A beacon forwarding a distress signal was picked up by airplanes in the area, but the exact location has yet to be pinpointed. Due to this, Eagerton says, the search has "an extremely broad radius."
Major Bryan Emerson, with the Civil Air Patrol, says that the CAP is also assisting in the search.
Emerson described the aircraft as a “silver Cessna 180, with the tail number N5222E.”
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft corresponding to this tail number belongs to Nathan Smith out of Kenai.
The identity of the three individuals on board has not yet been released, however in a statement by the Alaska District Church of the Nazarene, they say three Soldotna citizens “are missing from an overdue flight.”
The posting also mentions the located distress beacon and helicopter search activity.
“Many planes as well as those on snow machines will be joining the search effort,” the church writes.
ANCHORAGE (AP) — 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 plane, a 1959 Cessna 180 B, took off from Lake Hood Floatplane Base in Anchorage on Sunday, headed for Soldotna. Three people — John White, Josh Smith and his daughter Danielle — were on board, according to the Facebook page of the Alaska Church of the Nazarene. However, it did not arrive on time, and family members reported it overdue.
The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, a unit of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing, conducted aerial search efforts with two helicopters in shifts, said Staff Sergeant Edward Eagerton. The Civil Air Patrol has also sent out planes, he said.
“Really, it’s kind of a big area,” he said. “They left out of Lake Hood and were headed to the Kenai Peninsula, and that kind of leaves a big space.”
One of the complicating factors is that the plane had an older emergency locator transmitter on board, transmitting at 121.5 megaHertz, called a 121.5 ELT. When a plane is in distress, it sends out alerts to other planes in the area. The older model does not communicate with a satellite or transmit GPS coordinates the way the newer ones do, though. Noreen Price with the National Transportation Safety Board in Anchorage said this makes it more difficult to track.
“They’re modifying their search areas based on radar data,” she said.
Immediately after the plane was reported missing to the Rescue Coordination Center — within the hour, Eagerton said — other planes reported having received transmissions in the area. However, the pings reach out to planes within a 500-mile radius, and the peninsula is a big place, he said.
“It’s a lot of search grid,” he said.
On the Kenai Peninsula, many pilots volunteered their time Monday to go out and search for the missing plane. Most of the effort shifted to the west side of Cook Inlet around middday Monday, but the weather by late afternoon was starting to force smaller planes to turn around because of freezing rain, said Matt Vermilion, a flight scheduler with North Air in Nikiski. Weather might prohibit the smaller planes from searching although the larger craft, like those from the Rescue Coordination Center, can carry on, he said.
“There’s just a lot of prayers going around,” he said. “…Pretty much anybody with a set of wings and the time … was out today.”