Unknown ELB Keeps Searchers Busy for Four Days, Pilot Neglected to Report Crash


Overturned Taylorcraft BV12-D. Image-State of Alaska
Overturned Taylorcraft BV12-D. Image-State of Alaska

Alaska State Troopers were notified on Sunday of an ELT activation from an aircraft located east of the Parks Highway near Willow and Talkeetna. The aircraft that emitted the signal would not be located until Thursday.

Investigators could not locate any distress calls or reports of overdue aircraft AST said.

Beginning Sunday, the day the signal was discovered, the Civil Air Patrol, with specialized equipment, began combing the area to attempt to locate the signal. In all, eight CAP volunteers flew the area for five hours in the coming days encountering foul weather with high winds and low visibility. The volunteers also conducted a 13-hour ground search of the area.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Army National Guard also launched helicopters in the search effort, but were unsuccessful.

“On the afternoon of February 10th CAP volunteer pilots located a 1946 Taylorcraft  BV12-D that was damaged and overturned in the area of Lynx Peak near Hatcher Pass,” AST reported in their dispatch. The pilot of the aircraft was nowhere to be found and searchers followed his tracks up the mountain until the tracks stopped.

Armed with information as to the identity of the owner, troopers called the pilot via phone and found that “while attempting to land, his plane experienced a mechanical problem causing a hard landing,” Deeming the aircraft unflyable he contacted another pilot that ferried him from the area. 

Troopers say “The owner is working to remove the aircraft from the area, and the NTSB was notified of the incident.” 

The Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers remind pilots “to notify the FAA if they are planning to leave an unsecured aircraft in the Alaska wilderness or if they crash but can self-rescue through a private party. The search and rescue efforts resulting from this operation cost thousands of dollars and took multiple Troopers, Guardsmen, and CAP volunteers away from other duties to coordinate and respond to this multi-day search.”

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