The U.S. Coast Guard and others are searching for a medevac aircraft that went missing Tuesday night on a flight from Anchorage to Kake.
Three people, a pilot, nurse and a paramedic, are on board the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 200 plane owned by Guardian Flight. The plane was due to arrive in Kake at 6:19 p.m. Tuesday but did not.
Guardian Flight senior vice president of operations Randy Lyman said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our fellow employees and their families during this very trying time.” The company declined to release the names of the crew members.
Guardian Flight is standing down with its planes in Alaska until they have more information about the missing plane. In the interim, the company is working to find alternate transportation providers to patients. Guardian Flight says it is cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration in their investigations.
The search is focusing on the last known position of the aircraft, an area of water 30 nautical miles by 20 nautical miles west of Kake.
“So at this time we are still, along with our partner agencies, continuing to search,” said petty officer Lauren Dean, public affairs specialist with the Coast Guard. “We just want to really reiterate that we have several Coast Guard assets diligently searching along with the invaluable assistance of the other rescue and volunteers and we greatly appreciate their help.”
The Coast Guard says the electronic locating transmitter is not broadcasting for the plane.
Clint Johnson is the chief of the regional marine office of the National Transportation Safety Board. He says the NTSB is standing by and reviewing archived radar data.
“We have assigned a radar specialist, an air traffic control specialist in Washington D.C.,” Johnson said. “And we’re also looking at the various events that led up to this flight- as far as scheduling wise, pilot qualifications and everything at this point right now. At this point, we’re assuming that we have an accident, I think that’s fairly obvious, but we do need to see what happens in the next 24-48 hours with the search efforts.”
The Petersburg-based Coast Guard cutter Anacapa and good Samaritan vessels started the search Tuesday night. On Wednesday, a Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka and a National Guard H-60 helicopter from Juneau joined in. The Ketchikan-based Coast Guard cutter Bailey Barco was also headed to the scene. Also assisting are search and rescue teams from Kake and Petersburg, Alaska Marine Highway ferries and Alaska State Troopers.
Guardian Flight and other companies offer round-the-clock, emergency medical airlift service throughout Alaska for patients needing treatment at hospitals in larger cities. The company’s Alaska headquarters are in Anchorage.
Kake is an island community of about 600 people in the Southeast part of the state.
Weather on scene is mixed rain and snow, with winds 7 miles and hour and 1-3 foot seas.