Search suspended for missing plane in Rainy Pass
After two weeks of search efforts, Alaska Air National Guard crews have called off the search for a plane last seen leaving the Rainy Pass area.
David Bedard, a spokesman for the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing, confirmed the suspension of efforts to find longtime Alaska pilot Tim Twohy in a statement Friday evening. He said that an HC-130 search plane had been able to search the area between Rainy and Shellabarger passes on Tuesday.
Civil Air Patrol aircraft had tried to reach the area Wednesday and Thursday, with another HC-130 completing a search Friday between Wasilla and Puntilla Lake.
Throughout the week’s search activities, however, searchers found no sign of Twohy’s plane.
“No visual signs, no beacon,” Bedard said.
Twohy’s red and white Cessna 172 took off March 6 from Farewell headed for Wasilla, according to National Transportation Safety Board officials, but never arrived. Search efforts have been severely hampered by low cloud cover in the area, and a GoFundMe account has been set up to fund private search efforts for Twohy.
Although crews were able to define a search area with help from Twohy's hunting partner, Friday's statement said, steep terrain and the Cessna's altitude meant "radar information was inconclusive."
“Suspending active search operations is the hardest decision we make as a rescue community,” said Lt. Col. Keenan Zerkel, director of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center. “The search effort was a comprehensive, deliberate effort in the challenging terrain of the Alaska Range in very poor weather conditions. We are thankful to all of the governmental agencies and Good Samaritans who helped conduct the search.”
Civil Air Patrol Maj. Bryan Emerson said Friday night that CAP aircraft alone had flown 23 sorties during the search involving a total of 59 flight hours, with more than 400 additional man-hours committed to mechanical and logistical support for the search.
The search will be resumed if any evidence of Twohy's plane emerges.
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