Aircraft still missing near Rainy Pass overnight
Search efforts have been suspended overnight for a missing plane reported en route from Rainy Pass to Wasilla, and are set to resume Friday morning.
David Bedard, a spokesman for the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing, said Thursday evening that crews in an HC-130 search plane and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter encountered a "pretty low ceiling" of clouds. Thursday's search near Rainy Pass and Submarine Lake, which also involved Civil Air Patrol aircraft, didn't pick up a signal from the Cessna 172's emergency locator transmitter.
"We are no longer searching tonight due to weather," Bedard said. "We do not have a ELT ping."
Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, said the plane was not affiliated with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. According to preliminary information, the plane took off from Farewell near Rainy Pass between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The NTSB is monitoring the situation as searchers respond.
"It’s an active search and the Rescue Coordination Center [at Anchorage's Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson] is in the driver’s seat," Johnson said.
The aerial search will resume Friday morning, Bedard said, with help from an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter based at the Bryant Army Airfield.
"They’re hoping that the forecast will hold up for a 5,000-foot ceiling tomorrow," Bedard said.
Scott Jensen contributed information to this story.
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