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Updated: Searchers Looking for Missing Plane With Park Service Employees Aboard at Katmai National Park and Preserve


A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew conducts a first light search Sunday for a missing Dehavilland Beaver airplane that was carrying four people between Swikshak Bay and King Salmon. The missing plane had left Swishak Lagoon on Saturday to ferry a Park Service crew out. U.S. Coast Guard photo, NPS map.

Searchers looking for a missing plane with four occupants in Katmai National Park and Preserve focused Monday on a series of river valleys that drain down into Kamishak Bay.

The search, in its third day, criss-crossed the northeastern lip of the 4-million-acre Alaskan park, looking for a single-engine float-plane that vanished Saturday on its return from picking up three National Park Service maintenance workers who were tearing down a dilapidated ranger cabin. The plane, a deHavilland Beaver operated by Branch River
Air Service in King Salmon, was piloted by Marco Alletto, 47, of King Salmon, Alaska, and Rome, Italy, park officials said.

The three passengers were Mason McLeod, 26, and two brothers, Neal Spradlin, 28; and Seth Spradlin, 20, according to the Park Service.

Officials said the focus on the river valleys stemmed from the expectation that the plane would have flown up one of the valleys, then along Kulik Lake west toward King Salmon. The weather in the primary search area Monday morning was excellent, with largely clear
skies and excellent visibility, the Park Service reported.

The aircraft involved in the search are equipped with GPS tracking devices, which allow the search managers to plot areas that were intensely searched on Saturday and Sunday, along with areas that need a closer examination. First light Monday saw helicopters search the coast of Katmai from Katmai Bay to Swikshak Bay on the chance the missing aircraft began an unexpected route back to King Salmon on Saturday afternoon. However, no sign of the missing plane was found, park officials reported.

The search began late Saturday afternoon after the Beaver failed to return to King Salmon. Two planes owned by Branch River Air Service in King Salmon flew to Swikshak Lagoon on Saturday to pick up the maintenance crew preparing for the reconstruction of an old ranger station. The crew was picked up by the Beaver at 1:45 p.m., and a second plane
left Swikshak 15 minutes later. The second plane, with two employees and pilot on board, returned safely but had to fly much of the way 500 feet above ground level due to deteriorating weather conditions.


I work at a fishing lodge very near to branch, and we use them exclusively as our means of transport for goods and for flyouts. The day before he went missing, at 3:30, Marco flew me out of the lodge in the same beaver he has gone off the radar in, and he's was as sharp as ever. Marco is a fantastic pilot and a great person. I'm tremendously confident in his abilities and hold high hopes that his talent and judgment has pulled those boys and himself through. Hang in there and stay positive guys. best wishes.

I'm hoping this will end up being just another one of Neal's crazy adventure stories. From Yosemite to Hawaii to the Everglades to Alaska. He is a beast and I pray he, his bro and others are found soon!

Neil and Seth were/are my neighbors in Indiana. We grew up next door to eachother. They are good people. We all pray for the safe return and pray for their famly.

I was the manager of Brooks Lodge from 1981-83 and during those years sometimes a plane would go missing for a few days and then turn up with all aboard safe. Weather conditions would deteriorate, or there would be a mechanical problem, and the pilot would prudently decide to just land somewhere and wait it out, or sit until found. Back in those days, before cellular phones and the Internet, these incidents were mostly unreported, so the people turned up before anyone knew they were missing. My point: keep praying and looking. All could yet turn out well.

I worked with Neal and Mason on the maintenance team at Brooks Camp last summer and know that you couldn't have two more competent survival persons in an emergency situation than these two men.
We are all hoping and praying for their safe return to King Salmon. And thank you Ben for the added information.

I have a lot of faith in Neal, as he is one of my best friends in the world, to have survived anything that may have happened and to be able to handle any situation that has arisen. He is as outdoorsman as they come and fortunately there was a weeks worth of supplies on board that are there for them while waiting for rescue. I wait anxiously for the good news that they have been found safe.

what's his name? I can find out for you. I live here and work for search and rescue on a volunteer basis. I know the people here and will get you the info you need.




As is everyone else, I'm hoping for the best.

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