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Search For Plane Carrying 3 Katmai Park Employees and Pilot Enters 4th Day

August 24, 2010

Katmai National Park, Alaska - The search continues for a missing Alaska floatplane carrying the pilot and three National Park Service (NPS) maintenance employees. Search crews enter their fourth day of searching the 4 million acre park with no clues about the whereabouts of the missing craft or the fate of the passengers.

Missing Katmai Park EmployeesThe single engine deHavilland Beaver, operated by Branch River Air Service in King Salmon, has been missing since Saturday afternoon. The plane was piloted by Marco Alletto, 47, of King Salmon, and was carrying park employees Mason McLeod, 26, and brothers, Neal Spradlin, 28; and Seth Spradlin, 20.

The search began late Saturday afternoon when the Beaver, piloted by Alletto, failed to return to King Salmon as expected.

Two planes owned by Branch River Air Service in King Salmon flew to Swikshak Lagoon on Saturday to pick up an NPS maintenance crew. The maintenance workers had spent more than a week at Swikshak preparing for the reconstruction of an old ranger station. Swikshak is on the Alaska Peninsula across Shelikof Strait from Kodiak Island.

The three NPS employees were picked up by the Beaver at 1:45 p.m., and a second plane carrying two employees left Swikshak 15 minutes later. The second plane returned safely but had to fly much of the way 500 feet above ground level due to deteriorating weather conditions.

An emergency response was initiated through the Rescue Coordination Center on Saturday afternoon. A C-130 from Anchorage and a Coast Guard helicopter searched the area until 11 p.m. Saturday, but found nothing.

The aircraft involved in the search are equipped with GPS tracking devices which allow the search managers to plot areas that were intensely searched on Saturday and Sunday, along with areas that need a closer examination today.

There have been no radio or emergency locator transmitter transmissions.


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