Attempts to recover hunters unsuccessful

Gustavus residents mourn two men killed in plane crash

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2007

ANCHORAGE - An attempt to recover the bodies of two Gustavus hunters whose plane crashed last week in the Brooks Range was unsuccessful, police in the North Slope Borough said Saturday.

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The bodies of Steve Wilson, 41, and Eric Lochman, 36, are located on steep, rocky terrain. A recovery helicopter was unable to land there on Friday, borough officials said in a statement.

Further recovery plans are ongoing, they said.

Federal aviation investigators and the North Slope Borough Police Department had also tried to reach the crash site.

Meanwhile, the community of Gustavus in southeast Alaska mourned the two men.

They were killed on Monday when Wilson's single-engine Maule crashed about 50 miles north of Arctic Village, Alaska State Troopers and federal aviation authorities said.

Gustavus is an "absolutely close community," said Marion Farley, office manager for Air Excursions in Gustavus. "To have two people in one community in a crash like this, it's an incredible loss."

Wilson was a lifelong resident of Gustavus. He owned Wilson Air, an air charter service out of Gustavus.

Lochman "was a relative newcomer to Gustavus who married one of the local girls here," the city's mayor, Sandi Marchbanks, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday.

Marchbanks said the city sometimes used Wilson Air for official business. Wilson also flew guests of Marchbanks' Glacier Bay Country Inn between Juneau and Gustavus, she said.

"He was a good guy," Marchbanks said. "He liked to hunt. He loved flying. He did a lot of flying. He just grew up here and was part of the community. His entire family were some of the pillars of Gustavus."

Lochman owned a construction business that the city also did business with at times, she said.

The plane crashed for unknown reasons into a mountainside at about the 4,000-foot level, said Allen Kenitzer in Seattle, a spokesman for the FAA's Alaska region.

The men were searching the area for Dall sheep, leaving Wilson's son Mickey, 15, at the hunting camp in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

On Wednesday, the pilot of another aircraft noticed the boy's SOS, the National Guard said. He is now staying with a relative in Fairbanks, troopers said.

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