JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing rescued four people who were on private airplanes that crashed in separate incidents Aug. 12 and 14.
Guard members rescued two people from a PA-18 Super Cub crash in the Ptarmigan Pass area Aug. 12 and one from a PA-14 Family Cruiser on the Beluga River two days later.
Alaska Air National Guard Capt. Daniel Dickman, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center senior controller, said the AKRCC requested assistance from the 176th Wing for both rescues with Airmen of 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons.
After receiving a satellite distress message that was relayed by the Alaska State Troopers, the AKRCC dispatched a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II fixed-wing aircraft to the site of the PA-18 crash in Ptarmigan Pass about 130 miles north-west of Anchorage. Both aircraft were carrying Guardian Angel teams with pararescue Airmen.
The HC-130 air-to-air refueled the HH-60 to ensure it could make the distance.
The HH-60 crew located the aircraft and the pararescuemen made contact with and evacuated the two occupants. They were transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, where they were released.
After receiving a signal from an unregistered 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter, the AKRCC dispatched an HH-60 with a Guardian Angel team to the site of the PA-14 crash at the Beluga River about 40 miles west of Anchorage.
The HH-60 crew located the aircraft and flew one survivor to Providence Hospital. Additionally, LifeMed Alaska airlifted two injured occupants to Providence.
Dickman emphasized the importance of aircraft operators installing a 406 ELT and keeping registration current.
“With an unregistered ELT, we’ll get a location, but we won’t get an aircraft type, we won’t get a tail number, we don’t know aircraft type, and we don’t know who owns it,” he said. “Those ones are tough because we can’t call the registered owner or emergency contact. We have to fly over and verify a crash when it could be someone just bumped a switch.”
For the PA-18 rescue, the 210th RQS, 211th RQS, 212th RQS and the AKRCC were awarded two saves. For the PA-14 rescue, the AKRCC was awarded three saves, the 210th RQS, 212th RQS was awarded one save, and LifeMed was awarded two saves.