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Contact: John Quinley, 907 644-3512
Search for Missing Aircraft Continues in Katmai National Park
Multiple aircraft spent much of the day today in an unsuccessful effort to locate a missing aircraft in Katmai National Park and Preserve.
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 name of the pilot is not being released pending the notification of his family.
Search efforts this afternoon and evening focused on a wide and rugged area between King Salmon and the park’s Pacific coast, particularly in several river valleys that drain into Kamishak Bay on the park’s northern boundary. The expectation was that the plane would have flown up one of the valleys, then along Kulik Lake west toward King Salmon.
Six fixed wing aircraft searched this afternoon and will continue until last light this evening. Search planes included two each from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Alaska State Troopers. Additionally, two helicopters from Egli Air Haul in King Salmon joined the search. Early this morning and late Saturday night, U.S. Coast Guard aircraft also searched for the missing plane. Local businesses, private
lodges, and floatplane operators have been extremely generous in providing assistance in multiple ways including services and personnel to aid in the search effort.
Two planes owned by Branch River Air Service in King Salmon flew to Swikshak Lagoon early Saturday afternoon 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., but their plane did not arrive in King Salmon. The second plane left Swikshak 15 minutes later with two people and made it to King Salmon in an hour, but had to fly much of the way 500 feet above ground level due to deteriorating weather conditions. (Late this afternoon, the cloud ceiling was reported to be between 1,000 and
1,500 feet above ground level, and the winds were light.)
An emergency response was initiated through the Rescue Coordination Center on Saturday afternoon. A C-130 from Anchorage and a Coast Guard helicopter searched the area until 11 p.m. Saturday, but found nothing. There have been no radio or emergency locator transmitter transmissions.