TALKEETNA, Alaska (KTUU) - Update 7:15 p.m.:
Weather once again prevented Denali park rangers from reaching the crash site on Thursday. The team returned to Talkeetna at around 2 o’clock this afternoon.
Weather around Talkeetna was clear and sunny for most of the day, and head ranger Tucker Chenoweth says conditions up on the Alaska Range were good as well. But the crash site itself remained shrouded in cloud cover the entire day.
“We sat down on a glacier and we were there for about five hours watching the weather,” he told reporters. “We never really saw the crash site because the clouds never moved and by the time we left it had built up and was progressively getting worse on the range.”
Rangers are hoping to give it another try Friday morning, with clear weather predicted for the morning. But cloud cover could return by the afternoon.
“Tomorrow weather looks like its pretty good, we’re going to have the same issues we had today with the humidity in the air and the clouds sitting on the peaks,” Chenoweth said.
“The afternoon’s supposed to fall apart and then we’re going into another pretty active weather cycle.”
Meanwhile, weather conditions were good for flightseeing and a PR firm speaking on behalf of K2 Aviation confirmed that the company has reopened for business following the tragic crash. Flightseeing planes were seen departing the Talkeetna Airport throughout the day.
Update 2:15 p.m.:
Park Rangers were not able to reach the site of the plane crash on Thunder Mountain, according to Katherine Belcher, spokesperson for the National Park Service.
Update 1:52 p.m.:
The National Park Service helicopter has returned to Talkeetna. Officials say they are going to debrief their team, and will update the public later.
Original Story 7:48 a.m.:
Two rangers and a pilot took off from the Talkeetna Airport in a National Park Service helicopter Thursday morning, apparently beginning the recovery process for a flightseeing plane that crashed high up in the mountains earlier this week, killing all five people on board.
One of the crew members was Head ranger Tucker Chenoweth, the incident commander for the crash.
When asked if a recovery mission was being launched today, Chenoweth said they were still unsure.
NPS on Wednesday said rangers would need a clear weather window of at least five hours to reach the crash site and begin preparations to recover the bodies inside.
Overcast skies around Talkeetna appeared to be clearing Thursday morning, with the Alaska Range becoming partially visible. The video below shows Park Rangers take off from the airport in a helicopter.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said the ranger helicopter crew consisted of about four people. The story has been corrected to reflect that the crew was comprised of a pilot and two rangers.