Ambulance aircraft goes missing in Alaska US
An aircraft with Guardian Flight air ambulance service is missing and a search is now underway, according to the US Coast Guard. The flight was en route from Anchorage to Kake on Tuesday evening, 29 January 2019 but did not arrive as scheduled. The Coast Guard says its watchstanders in Juneau received notification from Sitka Flight Services that a Guardian Flight King Air 200 medical life flight was expected to land in Kake at 18h19 but the aircraft never landed. Coast Guard officials say there are three people on board, and search crews are looking in an area about 20 miles west of Kake.
The Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa is conducting the search near the last known position of the aircraft. Good Samaritan vessels are also searching the area, along with a Coast Guard helicopter based in Sitka. “Coast Guard crews are diligently searching for the missing aircraft and individuals,” said Lt Colin McClelland, Coast Guard Sector Juneau command duty officer. “We appreciate the assistance of the good Samaritan vessels and we hope we locate the aircraft and people soon.”
In a written statement on Tuesday night, Randy Lyman, Senior Vice President of Operations for the company wrote "The Guardian Flight family is devastated to report that a company aircraft flying from Anchorage to Kake, Alaska has been reported missing".
The company said three Guardian Flight employees, a pilot, nurse, and paramedic, were aboard the twin-engine plane. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to our fellow employees and their families during this very trying time" wrote Lyman, who added that Guardian Flight has initiated a stand down of the company's entire fleet until further information is available.
Guardian Flight also said it will be cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration during the investigation.
The Coast Guard said weather in the area was reported as light rain with overcast skies, 10 miles visibility, 7mph winds and an air temperature of 36 degrees.
The search continued on Wednesday morning, 30 January 2019. Chief Charly Hengen with the US Coast Guard public affairs office said that more crews are coming in to assist in the search in addition to the search personnel mobilised on Tuesday who would again be participating in the efforts. "We're still conducting the search this morning. So far there are no reports of the aircraft being found from last night or into this morning," Hengen said.
The search is being conducted near the last known position of the aircraft, though USCG officials reported that the electronic locating transmitter on the aircraft is not broadcasting. The additional search units come from the Kake search and rescue team, Alaska State Troopers, Petersburg search and rescue, Alaska Air National Guard, and multiple US Coast Guard cutters. “With the assistance of our state and local partners and good Samaritan vessels, we will continue to search for the missing aircraft and individuals,” said Captain Stephen White, Sector Juneau commander. “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.”
Guardian Flight initiated a stand down of the company's Alaska fleet until updates on the search are available, according to a post made on the company's Facebook page. “The Guardian Flight family is devastated to report that a company aircraft flying from Anchorage to Kake, Alaska yesterday has been reported missing. Three Guardian Flight employees, a pilot, nurse, and paramedic, were aboard the aircraft, a twin-engine King Air. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our fellow employees and their families during this very trying time.”
“A search for the aircraft and crew is underway and Guardian Flight has initiated a stand down of the company's Alaska fleet until further information is available. Guardian Flight will be cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). We will post more information on this site as it becomes available. Randy Lyman, Senior Vice President of Operations, Guardian Flight”