Alaska National Guard aircraft are searching for a cargo plane reported overdue to Dillingham Friday morning with two people on board, after weather prevented a ground search.
Alaska National Guard spokesperson Kalei Rupp says low cloud cover is keeping search planes from examining the site of an emergency locator beacon signal about 20 miles northeast of Dillingham, apparently from the ACE Air Cargo Beech 1900.
"We are at the scene, but we can't see the ground," Rupp said.
A Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Kodiak failed to find the aircraft and headed back Friday afternoon. An Alaska State Troopers dispatch says other search aircraft were expected to arrive at about 2 p.m. to join the search for the plane.
“Initial information is that the aircraft was flying instrument flight rules (IFR) and was cleared to land at the Dillingham airport and the aircraft never landed,” troopers wrote. “At approximately (9:15 a.m.) the Emergency Locator Beacon (ELT) began transmitting a signal.”
Alaska National Guard spokesperson Kalei Rupp says the 406 MHz locator signal prompted the dispatch of numerous search assets to the area. The Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were notified, with an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and an HC-130 Hercules search plane leaving for the area between 11:30 a.m. and noon.
“There’s a pararescue team on board each of the (Air National Guard) aircraft,” Rupp said.
State troopers had said planned ground elements of the search included a trooper who was headed to the scene on a snowmachine, as well as Dillingham fire crews and medics who were staging to respond Friday morning. By Friday afternoon, however, the trooper was forced to turn back by snow and weather conditions, and troopers now say ground responses have been suspended.
The area of the ELT's signal was listed by troopers as the Muklung Hills -- the same region as the August 2010 crash of a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter that killed Sen. Ted Stevens and four other people.
This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.
Contact Chris Klint