Searchers look for missing plane near King Salmon

Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ANCHORAGE - An intensive search resumed Monday for a small plane carrying a pilot and three National Park Service workers that disappeared during bad weather in southwest Alaska.

Heavy fog in places lifted Monday morning, giving aerial searchers greater visibility to look for the missing Dehavilland Beaver in rugged, mountainous terrain. The floatplane was reported missing when it failed to arrive as expected Saturday in King Salmon, 285 miles southwest of Anchorage, after leaving Swikshak Lagoon in Katmai National Park.

"This is being carried out as a rescue operation at this point," Park Service spokesman John Quinley said Monday. "There's no indication any of these people are dead."

Katmai National Park Superintendent Ralph Moore said he was hoping the floatplane landed in a cove to wait for better weather, but added he was worried because there has been no emergency locator transmissions or radio communications.

The park service has identified the passengers as Mason McLeod, 26; Neal Spradlin, 28; and Spradlin's 20-year-old brother Seth, all park maintenance workers. The Spradlins are originally from Westfield, Ind. The pilot is King Salmon resident Marco Alletto, 47, whose family lives in Italy.

The plane departed from the site at 1:45 p.m. Saturday for a flight that takes about an hour. Two other Park Service workers left in a Cessna 206 about 15 minutes later and arrived safely in King Salmon, but that aircraft flew 500 feet above the ground much of the way because of deteriorating weather conditions.

Quinley said Monday's search effort was similar to Sunday's with numerous aircraft looking for the missing plane, but over a wider area. Crews are focusing on areas that were not well searched before, he said.

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