Passengers of missing plane safe, report no injuries

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - (App users, to view the USCG's video clip, follow this link).

Three survivors take a photo with the Coast Guard crew who rescued them. Photo courtesy by U.S. Coast Guard.


In a statement Tuesday from the United States Coast Guard, the condition of the three passengers recovered from the downed Cessna aircraft on Monday is all clear.

"The three survivors reported no injuries," the USCG said.

This news after an extensive search after the Cessna 180 aircraft was reported overdue on a flight from Anchorage to Kenai.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew with the Coast Guard were the first to find the downed plane after it spotted a flare shot by the plane's pilot.

The pilot of the rescue helicopter, Lt. Joseph Plunkett, said in a statement that the combined search efforts and pilot preparedness were largely responsible for the safe rescue.

"Because the pilot was prepared, we were able to rescue the three people and bring them back to their family,” Plunkett said.


Three survivors take a photo with the Coast Guard crew who rescued them. Photo courtesy by U.S. Coast Guard.


In a Facebook message, a member of the Alaska District Church of the Nazarene tells KTUU's Blake Essig "all have been found alive and are being taken to Anchorage!! Thank everyone for praying with us, God has truly given us a miracle!!"

Blake Essig reports that the three were on board a helicopter heading to Anchorage for medical treatment.

They were found on the west side of Cook Inlet, near Chakachamna Lake.

"It's a miracle either way, but certainly nice to have a miracle in this direction," says Pastor Bruce Hardesty of the Soldotna Church of the Nazarene.

Family and friends gathered inside a Kenai Airport hangar Monday night to celebrate the good news.

Searchers had a hard time pinpointing the Cessna because it was equipped with a lower frequency ELT. Hardesty says a gnawing feeling came over family and friends that the three wouldn't be found.

"Maybe this isn't going to turn out well and then it grows and it becomes a very heavy weight to carry. Then when the news came all that pressure, all that burden just disappears, and we're rejoicing" says Hardesty.

No word on conditions of the three people.


At least three people are confirmed missing on Monday, after their plane was reported overdue on Sunday evening.

Clint Johnson with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the took off from Lake Hood in Anchorage.

Sources now confirm that the plane was headed to it's destination in Kenai.

Staff Sergeant Edward Eagerton with the 176th Wing says the search, which began Sunday night, continues Monday. Eagerton says the search has been continuous basically since the plane was reported overdue.

Two HH60 Pave Hawk helicopters have been mobilized to help with the search. A beacon forwarding a distress signal was picked up by airplanes in the area, but the exact location has yet to be pinpointed. Due to this, Eagerton says, the search has "an extremely broad radius."

Major Bryan Emerson, with the Civil Air Patrol, says that the CAP is also assisting in the search.

Emerson described the aircraft as a “silver Cessna 180, with the tail number N5222E.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft corresponding to this tail number belongs to Nathan Smith out of Kenai.

The identity of the three individuals on board has not yet been released, however in a statement by the Alaska District Church of the Nazarene, they say three Soldotna citizens “are missing from an overdue flight.”

The posting also mentions the located distress beacon and helicopter search activity.

“Many planes as well as those on snow machines will be joining the search effort,” the church writes.

This is a developing story and will be updates when more information becomes available.

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