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Contact: Kathleen Kavalok, 907-246-2104
Contact: Morgan Warthin
Today the search for a missing aircraft in Katmai National Park and Preserve continues. There have been no radio or emergency locator transmitter transmissions to date.
The NPS Alaska Incident Management Team, lead by Incident Commander Richard Moore, is assisting Katmai National Park by managing the search efforts for the missing aircraft and persons on board.
Today, aerial efforts to locate the plane and missing employees will be moving to a grid pattern. Initial operations were driven by topography and the need to follow all routes of highest probability for the flight path of the missing plane. Resources focused on all recognized low elevation passes, both to north and south directions. Operations will now be moving to a broader saturation model, based on a grid defined by air miles, rather than terrain. This methodical path of using a grid system is based on the same method used by the Civil Air Patrol and will cover all areas regardless of geographical features. The US Coast Guard continues to search the coast and the Civil Air Patrol is working on the northern search areas.
The single engine floatplane, a deHavilland Beaver operated by Branch River Air Service in King Salmon, carried the pilot and three National Park Service maintenance employees and has been missing since Saturday afternoon. The missing employees are Mason McLeod, 26, and two brothers, Neal Spradlin, 28; and Seth Spradlin, 20. The pilot is Marco Alletto, 47, from King Salmon.
Eight dedicated incident aircraft, (three helicopters and five fixed wing) along with three volunteer aircraft and aircraft from the Alaska Air National Guard, US Coast Guard and the Civil Air Patrol will participate in the search, with additional aircraft arriving late today. The multi-agency effort includes the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Alaska Air National Guard, Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Coast Guard, as well as local private operators.
There has been a gallant response from the pilot community with offers to assist in search efforts. Due to safety and communication concerns, pilots are asked to contact Katmai National Park, at 907-246-3305 to coordinate any search efforts.
The search began late Saturday afternoon after the Beaver failed to return to King Salmon. Two planes owned by Branch River Air Service in King Salmon flew to Swikshak Lagoon on Saturday to pick up an NPS maintenance crew working there preparing for the reconstruction of an old ranger station. Three people were picked up by the Beaver at 1:45 p.m., and a second plane left Swikshak 15 minutes later. The second plane, with two employees and pilot on board, returned safely but had to fly much of the way 500 feet above ground level due to deteriorating weather conditions.
Katmai N.P is about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage.
-- NPS --