ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — Update: 8:34 p.m.:
Search and rescue efforts to find an aircraft that went missing en route from Rainy to Wasilla have been put on hold Thursday night due to deteriorating weather conditions.
According to 176th Wing spokesman David Bedard, Alaska National Guard search crews are anticipating additional help from a UH60 Blackhawk, as well as additional assets to help with the rescue Friday morning.
Original story: Thursday, 11:53 a.m.:
A small plane has been reported missing en route from Rainy Pass to the Wasilla airport. Now, a search is underway to find it.
The plane was overdue into Wasilla, and a search mobilized Thursday morning, according to David Bedard, spokesperson for the 176th Wing of the Alaska National Guard.
Bedard said the plane was a Cessna 172.
Wes Erb, the chief pilot in McGrath for the Iditarod Air Force, the race's official fleet of pilots and planes, says the plane was not affiliated with the race officially. Erb said pilots had seen the plane and its pilot safe on a lake near the Rohn checkpoint Wednesday, before its return flight to Wasilla.
Those searching for the plane include Civil Air Patrol aircraft, along with an HC-130 and an HH-60 Pave Hawk, deployed by the Alaska Air National Guard.
Details such as the number of people on board, and why the plane was flying out of Rainy Pass, a stop along the Iditarod trail, are not currently known.
Regarding the Rainy Pass checkpoint, Bedard said, "As far as we know, this aircraft is not associated with the Iditarod."