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NEWS | Sept. 27, 2019

Alaska Air Guardsmen rescue pilot, passenger near river

By Capt. David Bedard 176th Wing

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued a pilot and passenger of a crashed Stinson 108 single-engine aircraft 7 miles northwest of the mouth of McArthur River Sept. 25.

The pilot of the crashed aircraft called Alaska State Troopers with a satellite phone and AST asked for help, according to Alaska Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Evan Budd, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center superintendent.

An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter with the 210th RQS diverted from training near Homer Airport with two pararescuemen (PJs) from the 212th RQS on board. Additionally, an HC-130J Combat King II with the 211th RQS, launched from Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson.

The helicopter was signaled by flashlights from the survivors when overhead. Two PJs were hoisted in and made contact with the pair. The PJs assessed, stabilized and transported the survivors aboard the Pave Hawk to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Budd commended the pilot for carrying a satellite phone.

“Chances are good when pilots run into trouble, they’re going to be out of cellphone range,” Budd said. “The pilot’s use of a sat phone ensured our controllers received critical details about the survivors’ condition and ground situation. Sat phones also allow our controllers to pass real-time recovery effort updates directly to the survivors.”

Budd also urged pilots to use state-of-the-art 406 emergency-locator transmitters, register them and keep the registration information up to date to ensure rapid response regardless of the pilot’s ability to communicate.

For this mission, the AKRCC, the 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded two saves.