A passenger airplane flying to Bethel had to make an emergency landing on Sunday evening (Nov. 25). The plane was a Yute Air Cessna 172 traveling from Nunapitchuk to Bethel. There were four people on board—a pilot and three passengers.
Enroute, the pilot discovered an engine failure and was forced to land the plane on a frozen lake about 5 miles West of Bethel. No one was injured in the landing.
Dan Knesek, Director of Operations for Yute Air, said the pilot did everything he was supposed to do, accomplishing a text book “engine-out landing” in the dark.
The pilot was able to call in the situation. The Alaska State Troopers then contacted Bethel Search and Rescue who quickly responded by Argo and ATV. The volunteer searchers said the trail was rough-going but they had good details about where to look. It took them about 45 minutes to arrive on the scene. The searchers then brought the passengers back to Bethel after giving them extra gear. They were in good condition but cold. Medics met the passengers in Bethel and examined them.
Knesek said Yute Air learned that the engine problem was a crank shaft failure. He commended Bethel Search and Rescue for their excellent effort and responding so quickly.
The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.