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Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
Aerial searchers located what appears to be the missing Cessna 185 at approximately 3:00 p.m. today on a steep slope west of the East Fork of the Toklat River, approximately seven miles north of the Denali Park Road. A search plane was able to land later in the afternoon on the river bar approximately one-half mile below the crash site, and an Alaska State Trooper hiked to the scene to investigate. The aircraft was substantially damaged by the impact and the post crash fire, but the trooper was able to determine the presence of human remains before increasing darkness prevented his further investigation. The identification of the plane’s occupants, reported to be pilot Dan McGregor, 35 of Denali Park, and his passenger Gordon Haber, 67, also of Denali Park, cannot be confirmed until a more thorough investigation takes place.
Park rangers have reached the scene of the crash, and are continuing the investigation overnight. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators will be flown to the site tomorrow.
The plane departed from a private airstrip outside the park on Wednesday, October 14 for a day flight, and the two men were reported overdue when they failed to return at dark. The Alaska State Troopers were notified that the plane was overdue around midnight, and then notified the National Park Service. The initial overflight early this morning by a Hercules HC-130 dispatched through the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage failed to pick up an ELT signal.
There were seven aircraft involved in today’s search, including four aircraft from the Fairbanks Civil Air Patrol Squadron, an Alaska Wildlife Trooper Cessna 185, a HC-130 from the 211th Rescue Squadron in Anchorage, and the National Park Service Husky. The search focused on the north side of the park, in areas that were known to be utilized by the wolf packs Haber was studying.