Helicopter that crashed into Cook Inlet found

Posted: Sunday, October 28, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Era Aviation has apparently located the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed into Cook Inlet Oct. 18. Two people are still missing in that crash, while two survived and one body, that of the pilot, was recovered shortly after the crash.

The Era helicopter, a Bell 206 LongRanger, was found late Friday afternoon in Cook Inlet, KTUU-TV reported.

The wreckage was located using a hydrophone that detected the pinging from the emergency radio beacon of the submerged helicopter. Divers went into the water and located the helicopter, the station said.

A 130-foot recovery boat on the scene was expected to try to lift the wreckage at low tide late Friday night.

Searchers are hoping to recover the bodies of Federal Aviation Administration employees Joyce Tucker of Anchorage and Ronald Frizzell of Wasilla, the two missing passengers. The survivors are two other FAA employees, Steven Durand and William Dick, both of Anchorage. The body of pilot Bob Larson was recovered Oct. 19.

Searchers in aircraft and boats combed the area between Fire Island and Anchorage for more than a week before locating the wreckage.

Strong tidal shifts in Cook Inlet and the murkiness of the water made the search difficult.

The crash occurred as the Era helicopter was ferrying the FAA workers back to Anchorage after they performed maintenance on FAA navigation aids on Fire Island, 5 miles west of Anchorage airport.

The helicopter went down during a snowstorm. Visibility was so poor that Larson had requested a special clearance from the air traffic control tower at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to fly. Larson was flying about 50 feet above the water.

The survivors of the crash told a National Transportation Safety Board investigator there were no indications of mechanical problems with the helicopter prior to the crash.

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