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Alaska Air Guardsmen rescue pilot at 20 Mile Glacier

Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing and the Regular Air Force’s 3rd Wing witnessed the unveiling of a new tail flash on the C-17 Globemaster IIIs assigned to the 176th Wing’s 144th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 1, 2018. The new tail flash depicts a wolf head, (the 144th AS’s emblem), on one side, and a firebird (the 517th AS’s emblem), of equal size on the other. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. N. Alicia Halla

Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing and the Regular Air Force’s 3rd Wing witnessed the unveiling of a new tail flash on the C-17 Globemaster IIIs assigned to the 176th Wing’s 144th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 1, 2018. The new tail flash depicts a wolf head, (the 144th AS’s emblem), on one side, and a firebird (the 517th AS’s emblem), of equal size on the other. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. N. Alicia Halla)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued a pilot and two passengers of a Piper PA-18 aircraft Jan. 3 at 20 Mile Glacier after the plane sank in the snow and ice.

According to Alaska Air National Guard Capt. Daniel Dickman, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the mission was opened after the pilot manually activated the aircraft's 406 emergency locator transmitter. Additionally, one of the passengers managed to gain cellular signal and texted a relative who in turn called Guardsmen of the AK RCC. The RCC then texted the passenger for further communication.

An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th RQS launched from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Aboard the helicopter were two highly trained 212th RQS pararescuemen who specialize in rescue operations. 

According to Dickman, the HH-60 aircrew found the individuals using the coordinates transmitted from the plane's 406. 

Dickman said the HH-60 hoisted the stranded pilot and passengers onto the helicopter while hovering at 170 feet. 

The three were transported back to JBER and were released to the Alaska State Troopers.

Dickman credited the pilot's proper use of the 406 ELT as well as the stranded individuals' use of other communications means.

“Though one passenger managed to get cell service, they also had a satellite phone that doesn't rely on the cell network,” he said. “We could have also received coordinates from the sat phone as well if necessary. They were prepared.”

For this mission, the 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons and the AK RCC were awarded three saves.

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