Poor visibility persists in search for Andrews men

Rescue team hikes on Douglas Island to look for two missing pilots

Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Coast Guard and others searched for the fourth day Tuesday for two missing Juneau men whose floatplane did not return as scheduled Saturday afternoon.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

An Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter transported a three-person team from Juneau Mountain Rescue on Tuesday morning to the west side of Douglas Island.

The team was dropped off at Point Hilda and planned to hike north about three miles on a three- to four-hour ground search, Coast Guard Petty Officer Wes Shinn said.

They searched the area on Douglas Island because it could be a likely location for a plane to end up if the men, who are both reportedly experienced pilots, had trouble with low visibility on their return flight to Juneau.

Brian Andrews, 56, and his son, Brandon Andrews, 24, did not return from a trip to Young Lake after leaving Juneau at about 3:45 p.m. Saturday.

They had dropped a family member off in Juneau with some camping gear, and then left for another round-trip flight to their cabin on Admiralty Island to pick up more gear. Their flight to the cabin about 20 miles southwest of the city was expected to last no longer than 40 minutes.

A four-person team from Juneau Mountain Rescue hiked into the cabin Sunday and discovered the gear had been retrieved.

The floatplane is a Cessna-182 and is white with red and silver trim. The tail number is N935OX.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, Civil Air patrol aircraft, a Good Samaritan plane and an Army National Guard helicopter searched from the air Tuesday, while the Coast Guard cutter Liberty search shorelines, Shinn said.

Low visibility due to fog and cloud cover has made the four-day search difficult, Shinn said.

"It's not making things easy," Shinn said. "The weather is low and is just not cooperating."

The search area was expanded Tuesday to a little more than 2,000 miles.

On Monday, the crew on the Coast Guard's helicopter reported sighting plane parts but they turned out to be from an old crash, Shinn said.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or e-mail kim.marquis@juneauempire.com.

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