November 30, 2004

Alaskan Pilot Rescued

saved.jpgMy infatuation with all things Alaska continues. I read this amazing story of pilot Mike Holman who was stranded in the Alaskan wilderness for over six days before being rescued. Holman, a pilot for United Airlines, was on vacation and flying his Maule ML-7 plane to a cabin 140 southwest of Anchorage but made a crucial error in judgment and went away from his projected flight path to explore the surrounding area. He landed the plane on a beach in the Koyuktolik Bay. Unfortunately, he could not restart the plane when he was ready to depart and the quick Alaskan tide submerged the plane shortly after. He had only enough time to get his survival gear from the plane but did not retrieve the emergency locator transmitter.

I remember being amazed while camping after a night of kayaking in Prince William Sound how quickly the tide came in and how it nearly swallowed the entire campsite while at full tide making the peninsula I was camped on an island for a few hours.

For three days Holman waited near the site of his landing hoping to spot rescue planes or boats but saw nothing. He determined his error of deviating from his intended path put him outside of the search box. He realized he would need to hike for help. The map he had with him showed a cabin within five miles of his location. After a 17-hour trek across treacherous terrain, he was blessed to find a functioning radio within the empty fishing lodge and was able to radio for help. The first rescue attempt on Saturday was called off due to high winds but on Sunday, after six days in the wilderness, Holman was rescued.

CAPBlog wrote some posts on the rescue efforts and the involvement of the Civil Air Patrol. He also gave credit to the Air Force Academy and its training of Holman, as "a graduate of the Air Force Academy, he was prepared for the situation. He had survival gear aboard, and he knew how to use it."

Photo Note: Pilot Mike Holman is greeted by his wife, Nicki, and their children, Charlie, 12, and Laura, 9, Sunday at Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage. Holman was picked up by an Alaska Air National Guard Pave Hawk helicopter Sunday morning after rescuers found him in a remote bay south of Seldovia. (Photo by Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News)

Posted by at November 30, 2004 9:27 PM
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