Alaska Air Guardsmen rescue pilot near Willow

  • Published
  • By David Bedard
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs

Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued a pilot of a Piper PA-12 Nov. 1 on a sandbar of the Susitna River parallel to Mile 79 of the Parks Highway after the plane crashed.

According to Alaska Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rhodes, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the mission was opened after a pilot of another aircraft spotted the wreckage and called in its location to local authorities. The Alaska State Troopers contacted the AK RCC.

An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th RQS launched from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Aboard the helicopter were two highly trained 212th RQS pararescuemen who specialize in rescue operations.

According to Rhodes, the HH-60 aircrew found the wreckage using the coordinates provided by the pilot who spotted the downed PA-12.

According to Alaska Air National Guard Master Sgt. Cody Inman, a 212th RQS pararescueman who participated in the mission, the HH-60 hoisted the pararescuemen onto the sandbar at an altitude of 120 feet to avoid excessive rotor wash. They then used crash axes to extricate the pilot, listed in critical condition, from the wreckage.

The pararescuemen packaged the pilot on a Stokes litter and fitted a cervical collar.

The injured pilot was flown to the Providence Alaska Medical Center for further care. During the flight, AK RCC relayed the condition of the injured pilot to Providence to ensure medical providers were ready to give effective care.

For this mission, the 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons and the AK RCC were awarded one save.