JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing worked with Alaska State Troopers and the U.S. Coast Guard to rescue five victims of a March 5 crash of a Cessna 206 airplane at Lake Iliamna.
The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received an emergency locator transmitter signal from the Cessna early in the afternoon showing the Cessna’s location on the lake’s ice 7 miles southwest of Iliamna and about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage.
The Alaska State Troopers launched a King Salmon-based R44 helicopter to the area while local crews and privately owned aircraft from Iliamna attempted to access the crash site.
A good Samaritan flying a Cub aircraft on skis located the Cessna 206 and landed at the crash site. He reported the five adult occupants were alive but had sustained serious injuries.
The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center requested assistance from the 176th Wing and from the Coast Guard at Air Station Kodiak.
At the request of and under the direction of the AKRCC, Alaska Air National Guardsmen of 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons launched on a 210th RQS HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and a 211th RQS HC-130J Combat King II from JBER. The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk from Kodiak.
Both the HH-60G and HC-130J carried Guardian Angel pararescuemen, highly trained paramedics.
Poor weather initially prevented both services from reaching the area, but by early evening both helicopters arrived at the crash site. The Coast Guard MH-60 hoisted two of the crash victims, and the 210th RQS HH-60 landed on the ice, transporting three crash victims from the scene.
The victims were evacuated to Iliamna and loaded onto the HC-130J and civilian medical evacuation aircraft. The Combat King crew transported one injured victim to JBER and transferred the patient to an ambulance to be taken to a hospital.
Alaska State Troopers said all five occupants were receiving medical care at Anchorage area hospitals as of March 6, with one listed in serious condition, one fair and three stable.
Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Col. Christen Brewer, AKRCC director, said interagency coordination was key for the complex rescue mission.
“This joint effort required extensive teamwork between the Alaska Air National Guard, the Alaska State Troopers, the Coast Guard, and good Samaritans on the ground,” she said. “With Alaska weather and distance, teamwork is crucial to ensure the best outcome of an unfortunate situation.”
For this mission, 210th RQS, 211th RQS, 212th RQS, the Alaska State Troopers, Coast Guard District 17 and the AKRCC were credited with five saves.