The occupants of an overdue aircraft have been found deceased, according to Alaska State Troopers. 

AST spokesperson, Tim DeSpain, says Arthur and Ann Ward died when their plane crashed while en route to McCarthy from Salcha late Monday morning. The wreckage was located 30 miles southwest of Fort Greely by an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter while conducting a site survey training mission. 

Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead with the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs says the helicopter landed near the wreckage at Molybdenum Ridge and its crew was able to confirm it was the aircraft subject of the search since Monday. 

The two on board were a pilot and his wife who were headed to their homestead near Ultima Thule Lodge west of McCarthy in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Olmstead says. Salcha is located southeast of Fairbanks. 

Troopers will attempt to access the site and attempt extrication on Thursday, DeSpain says. 

Olmstead says the couple departed Salcha between 11 a.m. and noon on Monday and were expected to arrive sometime late that afternoon. 

A concerned family member called the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center to report the overdue plane, according to a release issued by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. RCC took immediate action by coordinating with state and local agencies, around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday.

Airmen with the Air National Guard's 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were dispatched to search for the pilot's reported route, south of Fairbanks on Monday evening but had no luck finding the plane. 

A total of 15 aircraft, five from the Civil Air Patrol and 10 civilian planes, were continuing the search Wednesday morning, according to Olmstead.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators met up with Alaska State Troopers early Thursday morning and plan to visit the crash site soon, said Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief. He added that the site is only accessible by helicopter.

Editor's Note: ANG public affairs clarified the name of the ridge from Denim Ridge to Molybdenum Ridge. 

Chris Klint contributed information to this story.

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