Peering through low cloud cover, rescuers aboard a military aircraft on Sunday were attempting to find a sightseeing plane that crashed with the pilot and four passengers aboard a day earlier in Alaska, high on a mountain ridge in Denali National Park and Preserve. The pilot reported on his satellite phone Saturday that there were injuries, but authorities couldn't get details before the satellite connection dropped. Some 20 hours after the de Havilland Beaver plane went down around 6pm, it's now believed the plane crashed near the summit of 10,900-foot-high Thunder Mountain, park spokeswoman Katherine Belcher said. There was still no word on the conditions of the pilot and passengers. The tourists, whose identities and nationalities haven't been released, and pilot had to spend the night on the mountain, reports the AP.
"There's definitely low cloud cover," Belcher said in a telephone interview. "We're waiting for an update from the HC-130 crew that's up in the air." Thunder Mountain is a knife-edge ridge rising about 3,000 feet above two glaciers, 14 miles southwest of the summit of Denali, North America's highest peak. The plane was reportedly carrying sleeping bags, a stove, a pot, food, and a first-aid kit, Belcher said in a statement. An HC-130 was flying over coordinates that came from the plane's emergency locator transmitter and were offered by the pilot, said Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead of the Alaska National Guard. The plane's ELT beacon alerted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center around 6pm Saturday. "Searchers don't have eyes on aircraft yet because of cloud cover between them and the aircraft," Olmstead said Sunday.