Friends and family are praying rescuers locate Craig Layson, of Saline, and his four passengers after his plane crashed in Denali National Park in Alaska Saturday evening.
Layson, who owns Stony Creek Collision, is a pilot for K2 Aviation. He was piloting a de Havilland Beaver on a “flightseeing” one-hour tour that left Talkeetna about 5 p.m., according to the Daily Miner. The plane crashed around 6 p.m. near the summit of Thunder Mountain at an elevation of 10, 920 feet, according to KTUU. An official from the National Parks Service told the television station “The plane is reportedly equipped with an emergency survival kit including sleeping bags, a stove and pot to boil water, food supplies, first aid kit and other items.”
The newspaper reported the pilot survived the crash and initially made two satellite phone calls to K2 Aviation, but that subsequent calls failed.
Flights to the site did not locate the crash because of the low-cloud ceiling, according to KTUU. The search for the plane was called off until Monday, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The National Park Service and K2 Aviation are assisting the Alaska Air National Guard with the search. An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and rescue squadrons are on their way to the crash site, Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Co. Candis Olmstead told KTUU.
Katherine Belcher, a spokesperson for the National Parks Service, said they were hopeful crews would reach the crash site Monday.
"When weather permits, a four-member ground crew will stage near the base of Thunder Mountain to provide weather observations and assist in the event of a short-haul or military hoist rescue," wrote Belcher. "A ground ascent of Thunder Mountain is not considered an option due to significant rockfall and unstable snow and cornice conditions at this time of the year,"
Kimberly and Brian Iott are good friends of Layson, and his wife, Maggie. Maggie was not on the flight but is in Alaska.
“Maggie is distraught. She has no family with her. Craig’s brother is flying in to Alaska tomorrow,” Kimberly Iott said. “We are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers. We are hoping that Craig and the passengers make it out safely.”
Iott said Craig is a well-respected pilot. She’s flown with him several times.
Layson owns Stony Creek Collision. Iott said the Laysons have spent the last two summers in Alaska, where Craig has worked for K2 Aviation.
Layson has three children.