A pilot and his passenger — stranded by a plane crash en route from Soldotna — were rescued in Patton Bay on Montague Island by airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th rescue squadrons, according to a press release.
The Air National Guard reported that the survivors were planning on beachcombing Sunday when the aircraft flipped on its back after landing. An Air National Guard spokesperson was unsure of the plane’s condition, whether it could fly again, and at what point in the landing process it flipped or what caused it to flip.
However, the two stranded aviators, whose names were not immediately available to the press, were reportedly uninjured.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert for the overdue aircraft, a Bellanca 8GCBC, at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday when the pilot failed to arrive back in Soldotna after filing plans to fly to the large, uninhabited Montague Island.
“An HC-130 ‘King’ aircraft from the 211th Rescue Squadron, with a Guardian Angel pararescue team from the 212th Rescue Squadron onboard, took off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson at 11:26 p.m., followed shortly by an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron with another Guardian Angel team onboard,” the Air National Guard reported in a press release.
Crew aboard the HC-130 spotted the overturned aircraft at about 11:56 p.m. on a sandbar in Patton Bay. The survivors were loaded onto a HH-60 helicopter that was able to land nearby. The two arrived back in Soldotna at about 2:20 a.m. and were released for further evaluation.
In the release, the Air National Guard stressed the importance of filing a good flight plan.
Capt. Jeremiah Brewer, senior rescue controller, 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, said the plan filed in this case is what “resulted in the speedy recovery.”
But, Brewer said if the plane were equipped with a 406 beacon, which would have sent a distress signal via satellite when the craft flipped, rescue crews wouldn’t have had to wait until the plane passed its scheduled arrival time before an alert were issued.
“In this case, the survivors walked away,” Brewer said in the release. “That’s not always the case, and a three to four hour response time might have been too late.”
Patton Bay is located on the southeast end of Montague Island. The island is located at the mouth of Prince William Sound and is a popular destination for halibut fishermen leaving the port of Seward.