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Missing Plane Located In Katmai National Park

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avatar Missing Plane Located In Katmai National Park
September 30, 2010 02:43PM
Debris from the plane carrying three National Park Service employees in Katmai National Park was located on the park’s rugged northern coast on Tuesday evening.

Superintendent Ralph Moore said he was notified by a local helicopter pilot, Sam Egli, that portions of the aircraft, including a piece of the tail with identifying numbers, were on a narrow section of beach about 10 miles northwest of Sukoi Bay.

The single engine floatplane, a deHavilland Beaver operated by Branch River Air Service in King Salmon, carried the pilot and three National Park Service maintenance employees and had been missing since August 21st.

A U.S. Coast Guard crew from Kodiak, Alaska, went to the site on Wednesday morning to look for further debris associated with the accident. A NPS crew was unable to reach to coast because of bad weather in the headquarters town of King Salmon, about 120 miles to the southwest of the debris site.

The employees who were on board the aircraft were Mason McLeod, 26, and two brothers, Neal Spradlin, 28; and Seth Spradlin, 20. The pilot was Marco Alletto, 47, from King Salmon. Egli told the park there was no indication of survivors.

The discovery of the plane comes after more than a month of aerial and ground searching by NPS, military and civilian personnel. More than 60,000 miles of flying was done, at times with more than a dozen aircraft working search patterns over the 4 million acre park.

“This is a sad conclusion to an extremely difficult incident,” said Deputy Regional Director Vic Knox. “Perhaps knowing this adds some measure of comfort for the three families, but nothing can minimize their loss. Our thoughts are with them, and with the staff of Katmai. They, too, are grieving from the loss of close friends and co-workers.”

The search area covered some 14,000 square miles, with the most intense work covering the area where the debris was located. The beach had been flown over by the National Park Service as recently as Monday, and rangers had walked the beach just a few miles west of the debris site. High tides and high east winds on Monday and Tuesday are thought to have helped make the debris visible from the air.
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