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Alaska State Troopers reported today that the remains of the Yute Air pilot, 47-year-old Blaze Highlander of Olympia, Washington, were discovered in the aircraft that was located overturned and wrecked in the Kwethluk River.
Highlander had taken the aircraft out on Saturday morning, and was last heard from as he left Bethel airspace at 8:50 am that morning. Highlander had taken the aircraft out to break in a new engine that had been installed in the plane. He was due to return at approximately 11:30, but did not.
At 2:31 pm, the aircraft, tail number N1653U, was reported overdue to the Alaska State Troopers. At 3:05 pm, AST notified the Rescue Coordination Center, RCC took over the search efforts.
Yute Air, Alaska State Troopers, Civil Air Patrol, and the Alaska Army National Guard as well as others took up the search for the missing aircraft.
On Sunday evening, the downed aircraft was spotted by a Yute Air pilot taking part in the search. Moments later, a Civil Air Patrol aircraft flew over the area and confirmed the sighting.
At first light on Monday, Troopers, other rescue personnel and investigators left for the scene to begin recovery efforts. Highlander was found in the aircraft by searchers during the recovery of the aircraft. Troopers report that water and weather continue to hamper their efforts at the scene.
Highlander’s next of kin has been notified.