ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Two men were rescued after their plane crashed Tuesday night, setting off an emergency beacon indicating they were in trouble, as the plane caught fire and burned.
The plane, a Cessna 172, crashed on takeoff from southwest Montague Island, according to Alaska Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rhodes.
The pilot and passenger on board were later rescued by airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons.
A helicopter flew out from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson with pararescuemen who are highly trained personnel specializing in rescue operations.
According to the National Guard, the emergency beacon stopped broadcasting because the plane caught fire and burned.
The pilot, who was able to escape the downed plane before it burst into flames, used a satellite phone to call his family who, in turn, called the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District. The Coast Guard relayed the information to the AK RCC.
Before the aircraft burned, the survivors managed to retrieve their tent and they set it up as shelter from the rain, officials wrote in a release.
Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Andrew Williams, AK RCC deputy director, said it was a credit to the pilot he had two means of notifying authorities after the crash: the plane's onboard ELT and his satellite phone.
“Registering is key because contact information is key,” Williams said. “It helps us identify the person and the aircraft as well as track down the flight plan.”