UPDATE: Four men rescued after surviving plane crash north of Bethel
A pilot and three passengers were rescued by an Alaska Army Guard helicopter team after a Yute Commuter Service flight crashed 30 miles northeast of Bethel around 5:00 p.m. Thursday.
According to Alaska State Troopers, reports were received around 5 p.m. Thursday of a downed aircraft approximately 30 miles northeast of Bethel.
The aircraft, identified as a chartered Yute Air PA-32 flight from Aniak to Bethel, was carrying a pilot and three male passengers, all of whom survived the crash.
Wade Renfro of Yute Commuter Service says the engine of the PA-32 seized mid-flight, forcing the pilot to land in the tundra.
AST says an Alaska Army Guard UH-60 helicopter from Bethel was launched and successfully retrieved the four men, who were taken to Bethel.
"The pilot did an excellent job in his emergency landing, and their operational 406 Beacon expedited their rescue,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cody Bjorklund, the Black Hawk command pilot with the 207th Aviation Battalion who flew the mission.
Renfro says the engine had just undergone a complete overhaul from what he called a reputable engine overhaul facility.
"The pilot did an excellent job and no injuries were reported," Renfro told KTUU.