Two pilots who made an emergency landing on a remote glacier in their restored World War II-era plane were stranded for a third night after snow again thwarted efforts to rescue them.
"They seem to be in good spirits and holding up well," Coast Guard Cmdr. Bruce Merchant said late Thursday. "They're inside the aircraft so they're relatively warm and safe."The Coast Guard, which has been in radio contact with the men, planned to try again to lift them off Grand Pacific Glacier in British Columbia with a helicopter today if the weather cleared, officials said.
The men, who were unhurt, have survival gear and food in the Grumman Widgeon amphibious plane, which was undamaged in the landing.
Pilot Michael Mills, 38, and passenger Charles "Buddy" Ferguson, 31, of Gustavus have enough supplies for three or four days, Coast Guard Lt. Rick Ehret said.
The Coast Guard H-3 helicopter was able to land Thursday at the foot of the glacier at Tarr Inlet, but the weather never cleared. The chopper reached an elevation of only 1,500 feet above sea level, and the stranded men are several miles inland at the 3,400-foot level, Merchant said. The helicopter returned to Sitka along the southeast coast of Alaska.
The huge glacier is 45 miles north of the small southeast Alaska port town of Gustavus, and stretches across the international border. The pilots are on the Canadian side, said Marvin Jensen, superintendent of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
"A land recovery seems out of the question," Ehret said. "They're going to have to wait for us to fly in there."
Jensen said it might be possible to get a boat near the foot of the glacier and hike in, he said it would take at least two days to get the men out.