Search for Missing Kake-Bound Guardian Flight Suspended

Alaska Wildlife troopers pull up to debris thought to be from the ill-fated Guardian Flight aircraft as a Coast Guard MH-60 hovers overhead. Image-AWT

Alaska Wildlife troopers pull up to debris thought to be from the ill-fated Guardian Flight aircraft as a Coast Guard MH-60 hovers overhead. Image-AWT


Following an extensive 63 hour search that covered more than 240 square nautical miles by the Coast Guard, and searches conducted by volunteers and other agencies, the search was called off as weather conditions in the area began to deteriorate.

The search for the aircraft was initiated following a report from Sitka Flight Services at 6:40 pm on Tuesday that the aircraft was expected to land but never arrived.

Guardian Flight released the names of those aboard the flight when it disappeared as Juneau-based Pilot Patrick Coyle, 63, Flight Nurse Stacie Rae Morse, 30, and Flight Paramedic Margaret Langston Allen, 43.

While some debris was located and identified during the search Wednesday 22 miles west of Kake, no other debris wasd located during searches Wednesday and Thursday. That debris appears to be a portion of an aircraft wing but is yet to be confirmed to have been part of the Guardian King Air 200 aircraft.



“Suspending a search for any reason is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make,” said Capt. Stephen White, Sector Juneau commander. “This was an extensive search effort in some very challenging conditions. We are thankful for the assistance from the search and rescue teams, Alaska State Troopers, Army Air National Guard and good Samaritans.”

Those assisting in the search were:

  • Army Air National Guard
  • Kake Search and Rescue
  • Petersburg Search and Rescue
  • Wrangell Search and Rescue
  • Alaska State Troopers
  • Alaska Marine Highways Ferries
  • Good Samaritans
  • Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center

The National Transportation Board will take over the investigation and will also an official confirmation as to if the debris found belonged to the missing aircraft.

Hampering the search efforts was that the electronic locating transmitter, or black box, is not broadcasting. The area where the aircraft is thought to have gone down has water depths of between 1,000 and 3,000 feet deep.

The aircraft was responding to Kake to pick up a patient for transport when it disappeared.