Monday, Aug 30, 2010
Good visibility and clearing weather helped searchers yesterday in the ongoing effort to find the single engine floatplane carrying NPS employees Mason McLeod, 26, Neal Spradlin, 28, and Seth Spradlin, 20, and pilot Marco Alletto, which has been missing since August 21st. Five helicopters and five airplanes, including two flown by volunteers, were able to complete both grid and targeted missions within the 14,000-square-mile search area. A similar number are expected to participate in the search today. “All four of these individuals are skilled, tough, and prepared to survive in this environment,” said Superintendent Ralph Moore. “One soloed the Moose’s Tooth, a multi-day technical rock and ice climbing route in Denali National park this past spring. At this point, with good weather holding, we are still hopeful of a positive outcome.” Planes entering the search area with the onset of hunting season are advised to be on the lookout for aircraft involved in the search effort. A minimum of ten aircraft will be in the search area daily. Dedicated and contracted Department of Interior aircraft, along with volunteer aircraft and aircraft from the Alaska Air National Guard, US Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and Alaska State Troopers have participated in the search. The multi-agency effort includes the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Alaska Air National Guard, Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of the Interior Aviation Management Directorate, Federal Aviation Administration, and National Transportation Safety Board, as well as local air taxi operators and others. As in all park operations, the safety of searchers and the public is the top priority. Inclement weather, limited visibility, and rough and varied terrain throughout the search area contribute to the complexity of the search. Anyone who was monitoring radio traffic or heard a signal from an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) on 121.5 MHz between August 21st and today around the Katmai/Kodiak area is asked to contact park dispatch at 907-246-3305. Visitors and staff who were in the Katmai/Kenai area during that time period are also asked to contact authorities whether or not they saw any evidence of an aircraft. Doing so can help determine where searchers should focus their efforts. For more information, please visit the park website for updated information. A 3-dimensional map of the park is available at this website.