Day two searching for a missing plane and four passengers

Published: Dec. 8, 2016 at 4:03 PM AKST
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There is a large search for an aircraft that was expected to arrive around noon Wednesday at Merrill Field in Anchorage from Port Alsworth.

The Rescue Coordination Center says the plane, which is a PA 28-180 "Cherokee" single-engine aircraft, had four people on board.

The plane left from Port Alsworth after 10 in the morning Wednesday, and had the flight path through Lake Clark Pass before entering Merrill Field at noon. There are several people from Port Alsworth in Anchorage this week for a high school volleyball tournament.

Glen Alsworth, who owns Lake Clark Air, and who's father homesteaded in Port Alsworth said he had several planes flying back and fourth between Anchorage and Port Alsworth on Wednesday. He says there was ice fog, which forced his planes to fly higher for safety.

"It's the most beautiful pass (Lake Clark Pass) the only issue yesterday was about the west half of the pass was choked up with ice fog, low level fog, the tops were 1,200 to 2,000 feet," Alsworth said.

"But basically from there to the ground there would be no visibility. So we conducted several flights from our company yesterday and in our planes we stayed above the lower clouds until we got west of Port Alsworth were the sun was shining and we were able to descend over land."

Alsworth says people from Port Alsworth started searching the water by boat for the missing aircraft on Thursday.

Additionally the 176th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard launched two C-130 aircraft, a Guardian Angel team from the 212th Rescue Squadron, was on-board one of the C-130's. An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron flew from Eielson Air Force Base to JBER, where they switched crews and joined in the search effort.

According to the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), limited visibility from to fog hindered search efforts in the pass.

The 176th Wing continued the search Thursday with multiple aircraft. The RCC also reported the Civil Air Patrol is joining in the search effort.

The identities of the four people on board have not yet been released. The community of Port Alsowrth is in Lake and Peninsula Borough, about 170 miles southwest of Anchorage. There are only about 200 people who live in the area.

Glen Alsworth, who works in Anchorage and then flies the hour trip home to Port Alsworth, says most people there are deeply religious. Alsworth, who's brother died in a plane crash, says what happens to one person in the small community, effects the whole town.

"Right now our biggest hope and prayer is that they will find everyone safe and sound and by this evening we'll have good news," Alsworth said.

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