Canadian crews recover body of Alaska pilot

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Canadian search and rescue crew has recovered the body of an Alaska pilot killed when his plane crashed on a glacier in Kluane National Park, Canadian authorities said Sunday.

Three Canadian Park Service helicopters were sent to the area and two climbers helped pull Kurt Gloyer's body from a crevasse at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Constable Kirk Gale.

Two mountaineers who survived the crash were taken to an Anchorage hospital. One was released Saturday. The other remained hospitalized.

Gloyer, 45, of Yakutat was picking up the two climbers from the Cathedral Glacier Thursday evening when the ski-equipped Cessna 185 he was flying apparently caught the edge of a hidden crevasse on takeoff. The plane plunged into the 80-foot-deep crevasse, landing on its back.

William Pilling, 43, of Bishop, Calif., suffered cuts to his head and a broken collar bone. He was discharged Saturday from Providence Alaska Medical Center. His climbing partner, Andy Selters, 43, of Tom's Place, Calif. remained hospitalized with four broken vertebrae.

Pilling and Selters got out of the plane after the crash and stayed with the plane, knowing that a search would be launched when Gloyer did not return to Yakutat.

Rescuers on both sides of the border began searching Thursday evening. The plane was located at about 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Pararescuers from the Canadian Forces and the Alaska Air National Guard, as well as Kluane National Park search and rescue crews participated in the rescue effort.

Gloyer, a pilot for Gulf Air Taxi of Yakutat, had dropped Pilling and Selters off on in the St. Elias Mountains in the Yukon Territory, just across the border from Alaska, on July 10.

The two men planned to climb 13,000-foot Mount Kennedy and make it back to their base camp for pick up on July 26. But Pilling said the climb took longer than expected and they were socked in by a storm soon after descending from the summit.

The crash came after a grueling 16-day trek and climb during which the two men were pinned down by a storm for six days and running low on food and fuel.

Pilling said when Gloyer didn't find them at the base camp he flew around to the other side of the mountain and picked them up.

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