12:12 PM

Alaska Wing Helps Search for Missing Plane

The Alaska Wing devoted 84.7 hours of flight time in eight planes this week to the search for a missing Piper PA-18 Super Cub that ended Wednesday with the discovery of the crashed aircraft and the bodies of the pilot and his wife.

The couple were flying from Salcha between 11 a.m. and noon Sunday to their residence just outside McCarthy when their Piper went missing. An Alaska Army National Guard Black Hawk aircrew found the wreckage on Molybdenum Ridge about 30 miles southwest of Fort Greely during a site survey training mission.

The initial search area totaled more than 30,000 square miles crossing two mountain ranges with multiple peaks above 12,500 feet. Search efforts were hindered in part by cloud ceilings below 6,000 feet and multiple rain showers.

The Alaska Wing pilots involved in the search, which the wing joined with the authorization of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, came from the Anchorage Polaris, Birchwood, Eielson 71st and Tok Composite Squadrons and the Ninth Composite Operations Squadron. In addition, nine wing members rotated through the incident command post co-located in the 11th Rescue Coordination Center at Alaska National Guard Headquarters.

The search for the Piper also included aircraft from the Alaska Air National Guard, National Park Service, Alaska Department of Public Safety, Alyeska Pipeline Service and numerous private aviators.

Lt. Col. Keenan Zerkel, director of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, praised the Alaska Wing participants for having “worked tirelessly to help find the missing couple; their help was invaluable.”