Northwest Digest

Posted: Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Underwater object may be missing plane

JUNEAU - A sonar team looking for signs of two men whose boat capsized near Horse Island in November may have found wreckage from a plane that disappeared in the area four years ago, according to Alaska State Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

"We've certainly not been able to confirm that," he said.

But in talking with an officer from the National Transportation Safety Board, the disappearance of pilot Steve Zeckser and certified flight instructor Edgar "Bear" Burch was named as a possibility. Two tires identified as being from Zeckser's plane and some debris matching the materials the plane was made of were found four years ago on the far side of Douglas Island.

James Metlicka, 30, of Eagle River, and Nick Mayer, 31, of Juneau, disappeared Nov. 20 when Metlicka's 26-foot cabin cruiser, the Julie K, capsized near Horse Island.

Gene and Sandy Ralston from Idaho have been using their sonar equipment in a search for the men and the missing boat.

The debris, reportedly found last week, would not be the state's responsibility to salvage, Wilkinson said. It would be up to the owner to bring up.

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