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Army U-21 #081

Who: 

U.S. Army U-21 "Ute" #67-18081

 

Total Persons on Board:

Seven

Crew
Captain Donald W. Deeter - pilot, 29, from Fillmore, CA
Chief Warrant Officer (W-3) Ralph G. Battle - copilot, 38, from Miami, FLSpecialist (E-4) Paul E. Jones - crew chief, 25, from St. Cloud, FL
Passengers
Lt. Colonel William I. Barrett Jr - commander of the 1st Battalion,  43rd Air Defense Artillery, 41, from Beckley, VALt. Colonel John S. Edge - assistant post commander, 42, from Americus, GA
Major James W. Nelson, 38, battalions operations officer, from Greenville, ALCommand Sergeant Major Melvin J. Swiney, 44, battlion command sergeant from Tacoma, WA

When:

Contact with the aircraft was lost at 9:22 on the morning of Thursday, February 10th, 1977

Weather:

Cold temperatures, poor visibility and weather - described as "complete IMC conditions"

Flight Route:

From Elmendorf AFB to King Salamon, Alaska

Area Believed Crashed:

In or around Mount Iliamna, near the Cook Inlet

Reason for flight:

Transport of military personnel

Type Plane:

A Beechcraft U-21A "Ute" - the design is a hybrid, using the fuselage of a Queen Air 65-80 and the wings of King Air 65-90.

Search efforts: 

Despite a massive, 15-day, search conducted by aircraft, mountain climbers, and intelligence aircraft, nothing was found of the occupants, nor of the aircraft. 

The search has been blocked frequently by low ceilings, poor visibility and turbulence in the rugged search area bordering Cook Inlet, and it was determined that the most likely crash sites had been covered more than a dozen times. Air force. Army, Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol aircraft devoted more than 360 flying hours to the search.

But, in July of 1977 - five months later - five Army helicopters, an Army Mountain Rescue Team and communications units, consisting of over 50 personnel, launched a new search for the missing aircraft. 

The climbing team established at a base camp about 15 miles from the peak of Mount Iliamna. When weather permited, the team split in two groups and searched of the mountain, while a University of Alaska geological research team checked seismic instruments in the area.

Controversy, Theories, and other Trivia: 

Early in the search, Captain Keith Williams at the Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage said, a day after the plane was reported missing, that an Air Force HC-130 Hercules had reported "the possible sighting of what appears to be a burned spot near the top of Iliamna Volcano" 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Tapes indicate the crew attempted to contact Anchorage Center for a higher altitude; however, they apparently did not climb to a higher altitude prior to reaching a crossing altitude.

In 2012, a melting glacier in the search area vicinity revealing aircraft wreckage that may be linked to this missing aircraft.

 

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