Favorable weather again greeted searchers Thursday as they headed off into the skies over Katmai National Park and Preserve, anxious to find any sign of a single-engine plane that went missing nearly two weeks ago.
Though roughly 50,000 air-miles have been flown without detection of a distress signal or sign of debris in the hunt for the white-and-maroon float plane with four on board, officials said the searchers had not lost faith in the possibility of a favorable outcome.
“(Morale is) still good," Park Service spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman said from park headquarters at King Salmon, Alaska. "We’ve been able to give people rests when they need it, we’ve been able to keep people coming in at reasonable hours. We have plenty of resources. Everybody is working after good rest.... It’s really good eyes in the sky.”
Those searchers hope to soon spot the plane that vanished August 21 after leaving Swikshak Lagoon with three Park Service employees -- Mason McLeod, 26, Neal Spradlin, 28, and Seth Spradlin, 20, -- and pilot Marco Alletto, 47. The Park Service employees had been tearing down a dilapidated ranger cabin at Swikshak and they were being shuttled back across the expansive park to King Salmon some 250-to-260 miles to the west.
Ms. Freeman said Thursday's weather was mostly good for searching, although there were some pockets of poor visibility.
As to why searchers hadn't spotted any sign of the plane, or a distress fire, she said it was impossible to say what situation the four were in.
"If a victim is ambulatory, the survival rate is high. If they’re not, then it’s not," she said. "There are so many scenarios out there, it’s impossible to define one after this length of time. There are just so many what-ifs.”