A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew flies over a piece of debris spotted by Alaska Wildlife Troopers while searching for three people aboard an overdue Guardian Life Flight aircraft 20-miles west of Kake, Alaska, Jan. 30, 2019. Coast Guard Cutters Anacapa and Bailey Barco, along with an Alaska Army National Guard, several search and rescue teams and good Samaritans began searching for the aircraft and three people aboard after it did not arrive as scheduled to Kake Jan. 29, 2019, to retrieve a patient for transport. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Wildlife Troopers)

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew flies over a piece of debris spotted by Alaska Wildlife Troopers while searching for three people aboard an overdue Guardian Life Flight aircraft 20-miles west of Kake, Alaska, Jan. 30, 2019. Coast Guard Cutters Anacapa and Bailey Barco, along with an Alaska Army National Guard, several search and rescue teams and good Samaritans began searching for the aircraft and three people aboard after it did not arrive as scheduled to Kake Jan. 29, 2019, to retrieve a patient for transport. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Wildlife Troopers)

Guardian Flight resumes medevac service in Alaska after plane went missing last week

Company continues independent search for black box

Guardian Flight has begun the process of resuming medical air transport service in Alaska after service was halted when a plane went missing near Kake last Tuesday.

“As we continue to search for the plane at its crew, we know our friends would want us to resume helping others when they need it the most,” said Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight senior vice president of operations, in a press release. “We thank everyone sincerely for their thoughts and prayers during this difficult period.”

[Community pays respect to those aboard missing plane]

The resumption of services will not happen all at once across the eight Alaska base locations, but will be phased in as appropriate when the base crew members are ready.

The Coast Guard announced Thursday that it suspended its search for the plane, according to a Coast Guard news release. The search was suspended at 5:30 p.m. after searchers looked for 63 hours over an area of 240 square nautical miles, according to the release.

[Photos: Hundreds turn out for Guardian Flight vigil]

While the search for survivors by the Coast Guard might have ceased, Lyman said Guardian Flight will continue the search independently to reunite the lost crew with their families. He said they are organizing aerial surveys of the coastline and a SONAR (SOund Navigation and Ranging) search of the ocean near the last reported position of the missing aircraft. The company will also be looking for the flight recorder, otherwise known as the “black box,” for ultimate use by the National Transportation Safety Board in its investigation.


• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at mbarnes@juneauempire.com or 523-2228.


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