Guardian Flight ends two-month search for crew


Guardian Flight’s two-month search for its crew members, the company’s aircraft, and its cockpit voice recorder in Frederick Sound has come to an end.

The company says it has exhausted all avenues of exploration and recovery, but plans a shoreline search for any aircraft fragments that may have washed up near Kake, where the medevac plane went down on approach on Jan. 29, where it was picking up a patient.

Pilot Patrick Coyle, flight medic Margaret Langston, and flight nurse Stacie Morse – who was carrying an unborn daughter —  were expected in Kake on the night of Jan. 29, when the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air turboprop plunged into the water.

The search never yielded the remains of the pilot and crew.

“This is very disappointing to their families and our entire Guardian Flight team and extended family of first responders, air medical transporters and health care professionals,” the company said in a statement.

“We were successful in locating and recovering the airplane’s Cockpit Voice Recorder, which has been transported to the National Transportation Safety Board headquarters in Washington, D.C. for further analysis. We are thankful for the assistance rendered over the past two months by the NTSB’s regional office in Anchorage during trying times and despite difficult weather conditions during our search and recovery efforts.

“Guardian Flight has also been able to locate and recover significant portions of the aircraft during this process. We have identified and raised from the ocean depths a number of fragmented major assemblies of the aircraft, including the cockpit, fuselage, tail, engines, propeller blades, wing sections, and landing gears. These will be transported to Juneau for further analysis by the NTSB.

“We thank everyone who has helped in our search following the loss, including many good Samaritans, the U.S. Coast Guard, the NTSB, Alaska State Troopers, local law enforcement, and our dedicated search team. We have searched 7 square miles of ocean and ocean floor and traversed over 700 linear miles by ship to locate our cherished friends, the CVR and aircraft.

“Further, we have engaged Metron Scientific Solutions, experts in underwater search and recovery efforts, to aid us in the evaluation of our search to date. Our search team and the professionals in such efforts have concluded that we have exhausted all our remaining options in our underwater search and recovery efforts.”

The company plans a memorial to recognize and celebrate the lives of the three who lost their lives, all Juneauites.