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While we are planning a  helicopter search of the shoreline for any aircraft fragments that may have washed up recently, Guardian Flight’s two-month search for our beloved crew members, the company’s aircraft and its cockpit voice recorder in waters off the coast of Alaska is coming to an end after exhausting all avenues of exploration and recovery. Unfortunately, the detailed and methodical search has not yet revealed any of the remains of our friends aboard the aircraft when it crashed. 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.

We were successful in locating and recovering the airplane’s Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), which has been transported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 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.

This is a very sad time for us and our team, the families of our friends who died in this tragedy, and for everyone associated with flying patients in need of a higher level of care. Please reflect on the lives taken and pray for those lost at sea and everyone impacted by this heartbreak. We will be planning a memorial to recognize and celebrate the lives of our departed friends in Juneau in the next few months.

Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight

March 27th 9:00PM CT Update

 

Updating our communications from earlier this morning, Guardian Flight’s underwater search team has now located most of the aircraft pieces, including the fragmented fuselage and tail assembly. The second engine and landing gear have been identified as have propeller blades and other wing fragments.

 

We are committed to continuing the search for our beloved friends who were aboard the aircraft. The onsite team estimates it has found 85-90 % of the aircraft dispersed over a large debris field. We plan to recover major fragments of the aircraft that could be useful in the NTSB’s investigation and continue to search the debris field and other painted sonar targets. The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) is in the possession of the NTSB and being preserved for analysis.

 

The families of our beloved crew members have been notified of these latest developments. We are hopeful that we will be able to recover their loved ones to aid them and the entire Guardian Flight team in grieving this tremendous loss.

March 19th 3:45PM CT Update

The submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) commissioned by Guardian Flight has located and recovered the Cockpit Voice Recorder (Black Box) of our aircraft under water in Alaska’s Frederick Sound. The ROV has also identified a landing gear and an engine from the aircraft.
The search for our beloved crew is continuing. All questions regarding recovery of the aircraft and the plans for the Cockpit Voice Recorder should be directed to the NTSB.
While this is a positive development in our search, the confirmation of our tragedy is a heartbreaking time for the Guardian Flight family and the families of our friends.Please respect their privacy and ours during this emotional and sad time.
As we continue the search for our beloved friends, we continue to honor their memory and recognize their contributions to the wellbeing of Alaskans through their dedicated careers flying patients to higher levels of medical care.
We will continue to post updates as appropriate.

– Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight Senior Vice President of Operations
9:45AM CT March 19th Update
As we continue the search for our beloved friends utilizing side scanning sonar technology, we plan soon to deploy a larger boat with another submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). If we find the wreckage, the ROV is equipped with robotic arms for possible recovery of the crew, aircraft, and Cockpit Voice Recorder, including the unknown 25-foot by 6 to 8-foot object we have identified earlier. This deployment could be as early as later this week. The new boat and ROV will be dispatched to the search area where we have identified multiple targets on the ocean floor.
The larger boat will have Dynamic Positioning (DP) and provide more stability for the ROV to stay on target against ocean swells. DP uses a computer-controlled system to maintain a vessel’s position and heading through adjustments to the boat’s propulsion system. To date, we have searched an area of 7.5 square miles and traversed more than 600 linear miles over the area searching for the ping and then mapping the ocean floor through side scanning sonar technology.
In addition, we have engaged Metron Scientific Solutions, whose analysis led to eventually finding the Air Flight 447 at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean using modern oceanography tools. Metron is a scientific consulting company dedicated to solving challenging problems through the development and application of advanced mathematical methods. We have turned over our search data for their further review to make sure we are on track for identification and recovery of the wreckage and crew. Metron will focus on location probabilities through evaluation of flight data, local condition reports and search data.
Please keep our friends, their families and all of Guardian Flight in your prayers. And thank you to everyone who has reached out to us during this very difficult time.
Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
1:45PM CT March 12th Update
Our search team, utilizing side scanning sonar technology, has located what might possibly turn out to be an unknown part of our missing aircraft in the extended search area. Indications are the object is possibly 25 feet long by 6 to 8 feet wide. It is at approximately 600 feet deep in Frederick Sound and within a mile of the underwater beacon signals from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (Black Box). In order to properly identify the object, our next step is to re-launch a submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle, which will take a number of days to accomplish. We are hopeful that this might be a positive step in the process to recover our missing friends and return them to their families. We will keep this space updated as soon as we know more.
Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
8:00PM CT March 3rd Update
We will continue to work closely with the NTSB as the accident investigation proceeds. This cooperation has already extended to the search for our friends and aircraft, which continues. Our heartfelt feelings are with our missing friends, their families, their friends and our entire Guardian Flight team and everyone affected. Please direct all questions regarding the investigation and investigatory process to the NTSB.
Guardian Flight’s independent search for our crew and aircraft continues, even though the side scan sonar, ROV submersible, and Coast Guard searches have not yet revealed where the aircraft fuselage is located. We also have re-verified location of the underwater beacon from the Cockpit Voice Recorder. We are now actively expanding the search area and investigating any additional technologies that could possibly aid in our continuing exploration of the area. We are also re-analyzing all the data collected to date from the various searches and reviewing technical ocean current and tide data from the accident date for any new indications that could possibly be helpful, as the active search for our missing friends continues.
— Randy Lyman, Senior Vice President of Operations Guardian Flight
2:15 PM CT March 1st Update
We have begun the process to trace details on the ocean floor in the identified search area. We are using specialized side-scan towed sonar equipment. We will provide updates as appropriate in our ongoing efforts to hopefully locate and recover our friends, the aircraft and the Cockpit Voice Recorder. Please pray for our success. 
— Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
9:00 PM CT February 25th Update
We have completed several planned phases in the search for our missing Guardian Flight family and we are preparing for the next phase, which will continue within several days in the waters of Frederick Sound. Once the Coast Guard’s wide area search was discontinued, we chartered the St. Jude support ship to continue the effort. 
The St. Jude’s crew deployed a towed sonar device in order narrow the search radius through the detection of signals originating from the underwater beacon of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). That process led to a further narrowing of the search focus. The St. Jude then launched a submersible remotely operated vehicle in an attempt to visually identify the missing aircraft. That follow-up underwater search effort unfortunately did not reveal further information. 
The next step is to equip the boat with very specialized side scan towed sonar equipment that will trace details on the ocean floor in the search sector. Since we have the location of the CVR honed down to an identifiable area this will be the best search tool going forward. This process may take several days to complete but does not require underwater signals from the battery powered CVR to be effective.
Side scan sonar is very sensitive and is intended to detect even small objects on the ocean floor that could aid us in our efforts to return our friends to their families. It could be a number of days before the side sonar equipment is ready to deploy and we have anything to report. However, we will continue to post updated reports as soon as information becomes available. Let’s continue to pray for our missing friends, their families and everyone who is affected by this tragedy.
—Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
2:01 PM CT February 21st Update

 

Guardian Flight’s underwater search for our lost friends and missing aircraft continues in the waters of Frederick Sound. Over the past few days, we have been able to deploy the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) during periods of “slack water” or “slack tides,” when visibility is greater and as water currents are more stable. The ROV also must only be deployed when ocean swells are less than 3 feet.  The lights of the ROV are effective up to 25 feet and it is also equipped with side sonar devices. In ideal weather conditions the ROV can be deployed up to four times per day for periods of 2 to 3 hours at a time. The chartered boat’s crew is remaining on site currently to maximize the search time periods. We will continue to provide updates as appropriate. Our primary focus is on locating our friends to return them to their families, recovering the Cockpit Voice Recorder and retrieving the aircraft.

– Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight

2:30 PM CT February 19th Update

 

While we don’t have a lot of new information at this point, we wanted to provide an update on search activities for our crew and plane. Our chartered boat is ready with the remotely operated underwater vehicle aboard to further the search effort for the cockpit voice recorder, aircraft and our crew. The team has narrowed the search to an area with a 100-meter radius, however, the swells are too high to successfully operate the sub. Swells must be below 3 feet and as soon as that occurs, we will begin the underwater search activity.
— Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
8:25 PM CT February 14th Update

We are confirming that the search efforts for Guardian Flight’s missing crew and aircraft has taken a step forward. The underwater beacon ping from the cockpit voice recorder “black box” has been detected. There will now be efforts to narrow down its location through triangulation and to determine depth. We are hopeful that the Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) will assist in visually spotting the aircraft and be followed by successful recovery efforts. Again, our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt feelings are extended to the families, friends and colleagues of our fellow crew members. — Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight

5:40 PM CT February 12th Update

Guardian Flight Alaska has begun its independent water search for the company’s missing crew and aircraft near Kake, Alaska. Following cessation of search and rescue operations by the Coast Guard earlier, the company has already conducted comprehensive coastal rotor wing surveys in the area.
Now, utilizing a chartered boat, two captains and two crews for 24/7 operations, the search began today over a six square mile area where the aircraft is believed to have entered the water. Depth of the water in the area is reportedly 300 to 1,000 feet.
Guardian Flight’s search vessel will deploy a towed ping detector to help locate the cockpit voice recorder’s underwater beacon. Once the beacon is located, the search plan calls for the vessel to launch a Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) for potential confirmation of the location of the aircraft crew and aircraft. Hopefully divers will then be able to find and retrieve the crew and aircraft.
The lead investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be aboard the search vessel to support Guardian Flight’s search efforts. Hopefully we will be able return the crew to their loved ones and locate the aircraft to aid in the NTSB’s investigation. Recognizing that the NTSB is the lead investigative agency and responsible for all public disclosures, we will keep you posted on developments as soon as we can.
Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
4:00 PM CT February 11th Update

Guardian Flight continues to marshal resources to extend the search for our colleagues and aircraft missing off the coast of Alaska. Following the Coast Guard’s cessation of search and rescue activities, we have taken the next steps to retrieve our beloved friends in an effort to reunite them with their families. We have worked closely with the Alaska State Troopers on the ground search and have executed an aerial search of the coastline with helicopter assets from Temsco Helicopters. Unfortunately, we have not detected anything yet as a result of those efforts. We are in the process of moving assets to the sea search area in order to scan the ocean floor for the missing aircraft and crew members through above water efforts to locate the cockpit voice recorder underwater beacon, which emits a ping. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a Federal Government organization, is the lead investigative agency and has provided technical expertise to aid in determining a fix on the aircraft’s last location. However, it is not a search organization, so consequently, we will employ our own independent resources to continue the search efforts. Following location of the underwater beacon’s ping, we plan to employ a remotely operated underwater vehicle and divers for recovery.  Due to aircraft’s missing status, we anticipate that the NTSB’s usual public reporting protocol related to updates and final investigative findings may be delayed. We are working with the NTSB in its comprehensive investigatory process. As it relates to our resumption of air transport services in Alaska, we have resumed flight operations in Anchorage (1 out of 3 Teams), Deadhorse, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Kotzebue and Sitka. We will keep you updated on this in the future.  — Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight

12:00 PM CT February 7th Update

As Guardian Flight phases in the resumption of services across Alaska, we wanted to provide an update on where that stands along with a report on the status of the ongoing independent search for the aircraft and crew.
We have resumed service in Anchorage (1 out of 3 Teams), Deadhorse, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Sitka. Our base locations in Kotzebue and Juneau will be evaluated sometime in the future. We will provide timely updates as these bases are considered for resumption of services. Guardian Flight recognizes that many crew members want to get back to what they love to do and that is flying those in need of medical attention. At the same time, clearly, we are giving crews the tools and all the  flexibility that they need to determine whether they feel ready to fly patient transports.
Simultaneously we are proceeding with our continuing efforts to locate the aircraft and crew to return our fellow crew members to their families and loved ones. We have engaged Temsco Helicopters, Inc. in Juneau to aerially search along the coastline as weather conditions permit, and some of those flights have occurred. In addition, we have contracted with Alaska Claims Service to perform a towed-SONAR naval survey of the area that hopefully will be identified by government efforts to locate the flight data recorder (Black Box) aboard the missing aircraft.
Our whole team is grateful for the expressions of support and love that our team and the families of the missing crew have received from the Kake community and others across the state, and from all of the efforts to date in search of our missing companions. We are dedicated to bringing them home.
Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
9:00 PM CT February 4th Update

After a period of somber reflection following the loss of our aircraft earlier this past week, Guardian Flight has begun the process to resume air medical transport service in Alaska. Some of our crews are ready to begin flying again and we know that many Alaskans rely on us for this service. This resumption will not be all at once in our 8 Alaska base locations but will be phased in as appropriate when our base crew members are ready to reinstate service.
As we continue to search for the plane and its crew, we know our friends would want us to resume helping others when they need it the most. Guardian Flight has already reinstated service at our bases in other states and we thank everyone sincerely for their thoughts and prayers during a difficult period.
We will keep everyone posted on progress as we move forward in support of communities and patients in need in Alaska.
In addition, following the decision by the Coast Guard to suspend its search efforts, we want to keep everyone apprised of the status of Guardian Flight’s upcoming independent search.
We are very thankful for the Coast Guard’s efforts and that of the other organizations and communities that assisted in the process to date.
With an ultimate goal of reuniting our lost crew with their families, we 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. We will also be looking diligently for the flight recorder (sometimes referred to as a Black Box) aboard the aircraft for ultimate use by the National Transportation Safety Board in its investigation.
—Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight Senior Vice President of Operations
12:32 PM CT February 3rd Update

Following the decision by the Coast Guard to suspend its search efforts, we want to keep everyone apprised of the status of Guardian Flight’s upcoming independent search.
We are very thankful for the Coast Guard’s efforts and that of the other organizations and communities that assisted in the process to date.
With an ultimate goal of reuniting our lost crew with their families, we 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. We will also be looking diligently for the flight recorder (sometimes referred to as a Black Box) aboard the aircraft for ultimate use by the National Transportation Safety Board in its investigation.
6:15 PM CT February 1st Update

Guardian Family,

Please see the latest below from the Coast Guard on its search efforts for Guardian Flight’s’ missing aircraft. We appreciate the huge efforts from the Coast Guard, other organizations and the community to find the aircraft and crew.

While the formal search and rescue effort has been discontinued and we recognize the gravity of the situation, we will continue efforts to recover our friends in order to hopefully reunite them with their beloved families.

Our hearts are heavy, and we respectfully offer our deepest thoughts and prayers to our lost employees and their families. We will miss Pilot Patrick Coyle, Flight Nurse Stacie Rae Morse, and Flight Paramedic Margaret Langston. This tragedy is dreadful for everyone as they were our friends and neighbors.

We continue to ask for everyone’s prayers and support as we focus on the wellbeing of the surviving families and the entire Guardian Flight team.

—Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska
Contact: 17th District Public Affairs
Office: (907) 463-2065
After Hours: (907) 723-5367
17th District online newsroom

Coast Guard suspends search for overdue aircraft near Kake, Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard suspended the search for an overdue aircraft with three people aboard near Kake, Alaska, 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Coast Guard conducted maritime and aerial searches for more than 63 hours concentrated in an area of 240 square nautical miles. Numerous other searches were conducted by partner agencies and volunteers.

The Coast Guard began searching after Sector Juneau command center watchstanders received notification from Sitka Flight Services at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, that a Guardian medical life flight was expected to land in Kake, Alaska, but never arrived.

Coast Guard Cutters Anacapa and Bailey Barco, MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters from Air Station Sitka and Air Station Kodiak, along with partner agencies and volunteers, searched an area 20 miles west of Kake, Alaska, which was the last known position of the aircraft.

Aircraft debris was located in the search area, Wednesday, and appears to be from the Guardian flight. Despite the search efforts, no other debris was located Wednesday night or Thursday.

“Suspending a search for any reason is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make,” said Capt. Stephen White, Sector Juneau commander. “This was an extensive search effort in some very challenging conditions. We are thankful for the assistance from the search and rescue teams, Alaska State Troopers, Army Air National Guard and good Samaritans.”

Those assisting in the search were:
Army Air National Guard
Kake Search and Rescue
Petersburg Search and Rescue
Wrangell Search and Rescue
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska Marine Highways Ferries
Good Samaritans
Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center

10:35 PM CT January 31st Update

While the Coast Guard and others continue the search for the missing Guardian Flight aircraft off the coast of Alaska, the debris found by searchers unfortunately gives us a very strong indication that it was our airplane. While search and rescue efforts are continuing in an attempt to find survivors, we are resigned to accept that the aircraft was ours.
On board were Pilot Patrick Coyle, 63, Flight Nurse Stacie Rae Morse, 30, and Flight Paramedic Margaret Langston, 43, all based in Juneau. (Margaret was earlier identified as Margaret Langston Allen, but we have been informed by her family that she was recently married, and her last name is now Langston.) We continue to ask for everyone’s prayers and support as we focus on families, crew members and the entire Guardian Flight team and extended family of all those involved.
– Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
3:25 PM CT January 31st Update

There is an Associated Press article out which states that debris from the missing aircraft has been found. That has not been confirmed at this point. We are meeting constantly with the Coast Guard and others on the search and rescue efforts to include the search pattern on known last position or trajectory.  As soon as we have confirmed any information from authorities we will share it immediately. This is a very sad and painful time for families, friends and Guardian Flight.

1:55 PM CT January 30th Update

As part of our ongoing efforts to keep everyone posted on developments, Guardian Flight has released the names of the personnel aboard the missing aircraft: Pilot Patrick Coyle, 63, Flight Nurse Stacie Rae Morse, 30, and Flight Paramedic Margaret Langston Allen, 43, all based in Juneau. We continue to ask for prayers and support as we focus on these crew members and their families during this very difficult time. – Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
9:30 PM CT January 30th Update

The Coast Guard has issued an update on the search:

Coast Guard, partner agencies continue search for overdue aircraft near Kake, Alaska

The Coast Guard, partner agencies and volunteers continue the search for the overdue aircraft near Kake, Alaska, Wednesday.

It was reported that debris from a plane was located in the water approximately 22 miles west of Kake, near the south tip of Admiralty Island in the Chatham Strait. The Coast Guard cannot confirm the debris is from the overdue aircraft.

The Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa, Cutter Bailey Barco and an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew continue the search.

Also assisting in the search are:
Petersburg Search and Rescue
Alaska State Troopers
Kake Search and Rescue
Wrangell Search and Rescue
Alaska Marine Highways Ferries
Good Samaritans
“We have received reports of debris in the water and are concentrating search efforts near that area,” said Capt. Stephen White, Coast Guard Sector Juneau commander. “Through our coordinated efforts with all involved we continue to actively search, we are thankful for the assistance rendered.”

Weather in the area is reported as a rain and snow mix with overcast skies, 7 mph winds and an air temperature of 39 degrees. The water temperature is 42 degrees with 1-3 foot swells.

We thank the Coast Guard and the other organizations who are working so very hard to find our friends and colleagues. We are focused on supporting our team and their families as the search continues. Please keep those aboard and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
8:36 PM CT January 30th Update

Guardian Flight appreciates the efforts of many responders and agencies that are searching for a company aircraft and three employees flying from Anchorage to Kake, Alaska Tuesday that has been reported missing. We continue to pray for their recovery.

According to the Coast Guard, it and multiple agencies and volunteers continue the search. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa and an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew continue the search, along with a Juneau-based Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 rescue helicopter. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Barco is en route to the search area at 1 pm Alaska time Wednesday.

Also assisting in the search are:
· Petersburg Search and Rescue
· Alaska State Troopers
· Kake Search and Rescue
· Alaska Marine Highway Ferries
· Good Samaritans

Watchstanders directed the launch of the Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa crew to conduct the search near the last known position of the aircraft. Several good Samaritan vessels assisted in the search Tuesday evening. The electronic locating transmitter on the aircraft is not broadcasting.

“With the assistance of our state and local partners and good Samaritan vessels, we will continue to search for the missing aircraft and individuals,” said Capt. Stephen White, Sector Juneau commander. “We have several Coast Guard assets diligently searching along with the invaluable assistance of the other rescue and volunteers, and we greatly appreciate their help.”

Weather in the area is reported as rain/snow mix with overcast skies, 7 mph winds and an air temperature of 39 degrees. The water temperature is 42 degrees with 1-3 ft. swells. The Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa is homeported in Petersburg, and the Cutter Bailey Barco is homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska.

We will keep you posted on developments and we need your thoughts and prayers through this difficult time, as we focus on the families of those missing and our hundreds of concerned employees.

Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight
3:11PM CT January 30th Update

The Guardian Flight family is devastated to report that a company aircraft flying from Anchorage to Kake, Alaska yesterday has been reported missing. Three Guardian Flight employees, a pilot, nurse, and paramedic, were aboard the aircraft, a twin-engine King Air. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our fellow employees and their families during this very trying time.
A search for the aircraft and crew is underway and Guardian Flight has initiated a stand down of the company’s Alaska fleet until further information is available. Guardian Flight will be cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). We will post more information on this site as it becomes available. — Randy Lyman, Senior Vice President of Operations, Guardian Flight
12:51AM CT January 30th 2019 Update

For media inquiries, please contact Jim Gregory at jim@jimgregoryworks.com