Missing aircraft bound for Pemberton located; all onboard alive 

Single-engine plane was last spotted on radar near Indian Arm

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE - SAFE AND SOUND Three passengers aboard a plane that went missing near Pemberton on Sunday were recovered in good condition the following evening. The single-engine aircraft is pictured with a Cormorant rescue helicopter hovering above.
  • Photo courtesy of The Royal Canadian Air Force
  • SAFE AND SOUND Three passengers aboard a plane that went missing near Pemberton on Sunday were recovered in good condition the following evening. The single-engine aircraft is pictured with a Cormorant rescue helicopter hovering above.

A small plane that went missing en route to Pemberton has been located, and all three people aboard are safe and sound.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Victoria confirmed Monday evening that the plane had been located, and that its pilot and passengers were alive and well.

"All we can say is that other than dehydration, they appeared OK," said Lt.-Cmdr. Desmond James.

The plane landed on a glacier in the Pemberton Ice Field, roughly 15 kilometres northwest of Callaghan Lake, and was later spotted by a group of snowmobilers. The plane's passengers left a note in the aircraft saying they were in good condition before hunkering down for the night.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre would not comment on the circumstances that led to the incident, but one of the plane's passengers, Peter Jedynakiewicz, told CBC's The Current Tuesday morning that pilot Vern Hannah made a wrong turn and was forced to make an emergency landing when the single-engine aircraft was caught in a downwind. He called the 83-year-old Hannah, who has 40 years of flying experience, a "hero" who managed to land the aircraft softly on a glacier "like a pillow."

Recalling some survival tips from a movie he had seen, Jedynakiewiz said the group followed the path of a nearby river to try and find help. The trek, however, proved too much for the elderly pilot, and the group eventually decided to spend the night in the valley.

"Historically, it’s not often that in a situation like this we have a successful result. For the rescuers, for the (search and rescue) techs, for everybody involved, it’s quite fantastic," James said. "I can tell you I was in the JRCC and they were quite ecstatic when they were able to find the people alive."

The Beechcraft Musketeer departed from Pitt Meadows on Sunday morning, with plans to return to the Lower Mainland later that day. It was last spotted on radar near Indian Arm on the North Shore.

An overnight search turned up no signs of the missing plane or its occupants. Two Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopters and two Buffalo planes resumed the search Monday morning along a 100-km stretch between Indian Arm and Pemberton.

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