November 9, 2015 – JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued two people Saturday after their plane crashed at a remote airstrip southeast of Skwentna, Alaska.
According to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the two individuals were attempting to land at a remote airstrip near Eight Mile Lake when the plane flipped over during landing.
“The snow was too deep,” said Master Sgt. Armando Soria, superintendent of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center. “The aircraft was not equipped with skis, and as they were attempting to land, the snow caught the wheels and flipped the plane.”
Though the two survivors were uninjured from the crash, they were not prepared with survival gear, and were unable to make their way out on their own, Soria said.
“Nobody would have been able to get to them by ground,” said Soria. “They were approximately 30 miles from a ground team, and they would have had to cross rivers and streams that weren’t frozen yet.”
After being notified by the Alaska State Troopers, the Rescue Coordination Center decided which assets would be most effective for the response.
“Darkness was approaching, so we couldn’t send out the Civil Air Patrol,” Soria said, “and so we sent out the HH-60.”
The Alaska Air National Guard launched an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron with a team of pararescuemen from the 212th Rescue Squadron on board out of JBER.
The team flew to the location, rescued the survivors and flew them to Mat-Su Regional Hospital, where they were released to medical personnel.
“It’s important to remember to be prepared when you’re navigating the skies of the Alaska wilderness,” said Soria. “You can’t take for granted the size and scope of this state, and how much the weather can play a role in your survivability in the event something unexpected happens. It is important to always pack at least the minimal essential survival gear, ensure you have an emergency locater beacon. That will help your chance of survival.”
For this mission, the 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded two saves.