JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —Following a recommendation from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, Alaskan Command commander, suspended the active search for an overdue aircraft piloted by Tim Twohy March 21.
Twohy, piloting a red and white Cessna 172, was reported overdue March 6. Despite extensive search efforts, no sign of the aircraft has been found.
“Suspending active search operations is the hardest decision we make as a rescue community,” said Lt. Col. Keenan Zerkel, AK RCC director. “The search effort was a comprehensive, deliberate effort in the challenging terrain of the Alaska Range in very poor weather conditions. We are thankful to all of the governmental agencies and Good Samaritans who helped conduct the search.”
Suspension is not a closure of the mission. A suspended search can resume if new information or clues are developed. All aspects of this mission were carefully considered and care was taken to not end the search prematurely.
The Alaska Air National Guard began searching after the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received a report Twohy was overdue. Alaska Air National Guard HC-130J Combat King IIs and an HH-60G Pave Hawk were joined during the past two weeks by Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawks, Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules, Alaska State Troopers A-Star helicopters, Civil Air Patrol aircraft and civilian Good Samaritans.
Rainy Pass was identified as a focus area based on radar sources and information provided by Twohy’s hunting partner but due to the vertical terrain and aircraft altitude, the radar information was inconclusive. Further complicating the search effort was the lack of a definitive electronic locator transmitter signal from the aircraft.
Search-and-rescue personnel and Good Samaritans conducted aerial searches for nearly two weeks, concentrating on the focus area and Twohy’s expected routes between his origin at Submarine Lake and his planned destination at Wasilla Airport.