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Alaska Army Guard members save four after plane crash

By Alaska National Guard | April 15, 2019

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Soldiers with the Alaska Army National Guard’s 207th Aviation Battalion saved four people after their plane crashed April 11 about 35 miles northeast of Bethel.

Alaska State Troopers contacted the Rescue Coordination Center that day to request a search and rescue mission out of Bethel, where an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk and aircrew are stationed full-time.

“We were scheduled to depart for Dillingham earlier Thursday, but were delayed due to severe turbulence in our route of flight,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cody Bjorklund, the Black Hawk command pilot on the mission. “Our delayed departure coincided with the RCC request, so we were able to respond immediately,” he said.

Bjorklund said they were notified that the four passengers were uninjured, and they received grid coordinates from the RCC for the crash site of the single-engine Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six.

“It took us 20 minutes to reach the crash site, which was easily identified in the middle of the tundra,” said Bjorklund.

According to the RCC, there is no substitute for a properly installed, registered 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter. Upon manual or automatic activation, it gets 100% of the attention of RCC personnel and directs them to the beacon’s location within minutes, prompting them to coordinate a rescue mission.

“The pilot did an excellent job in his emergency landing, and their operational 406 Beacon expedited their rescue,” said Bjorklund.

The four passengers were returned to Bethel, a coastal community in western Alaska that sits along the Kuskokwim River .

The 207th Aviation Battalion was awarded four saves for this mission.