News Release

Update on Aircraft Recovery Effort in Denali National Park and Preserve

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Date: August 21, 2023
Contact: Sharon Stiteler, 907-683-9583

Denali National Park and Preserve mountaineering rangers, working closely with TEMSCO helicopter pilots and mechanic staff, have determined that recovery of pilot Jason Tucker and passenger Nicolas Blace on board the PA-18 aircraft that crashed on a tributary of the West Fork of the Yenta River on August 9 cannot be performed safely at this time.

NPS rangers made five flights to the accident site in the past week. Rangers attempted technical rope lowering down multiple gullies however, each presented a significant overhead rockfall hazard.

Rangers also worked with TEMSCO helicopter pilots to explore the feasibility of hooking into the aircraft wreckage with a mechanical ‘grabber’ on the end of a 450-foot-long line. After testing the equipment at a Talkeetna gravel pit and taking into consideration the accident site itself, the long-line method was also determined to present an excessive risk to the helicopter pilot and spotter due to the unknown weight and transportability of the wreckage, as well as the limited rotor clearance with the surrounding terrain.

“With great empathy for the families of the deceased pilot and hunter,” said Brooke Merrell, Denali Park superintendent, “we have made the difficult determination not to attempt a recovery effort at this time. The steep terrain at the accident site would make a recovery operation too dangerous to further risk the lives of rangers.”

“If and when environmental conditions change, such as lower water volume or a frozen river allows access on foot, we will consider a recovery at that time,” said Denali’s Chief Ranger Jordan Neumann.

Last updated: August 21, 2023

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Denali Park, AK 99755


907 683-9532
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