ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The pilot of a small plane that crashed near Anchorage’s north border Friday was 29-year-old Seth Fairbanks, according to his family.
Officials have suspended a search for the two people they believe were on the plane, but Fairbanks’ family members are still searching by air and by foot.
Alaska State Troopers have not publicly identified the pilot and passenger of the Piper PA-18 Supercub found partially submerged in the Knik Arm mudflats, but Grant Fairbanks says his son was flying to the area for a family gathering Friday.
Federal Aviation Administration records list Fairbanks as the owner of the plane.
The Alaska Air National Guard, the Civil Air Patrol and wildlife officers from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson have been searching for plane’s two occupants since it was found around 6 a.m. Friday. The Air National Guard said Saturday afternoon that it would suspend its official search.
Despite extensive search efforts, Grant Fairbanks says his hopes aren’t high.
“People don’t survive in that water for longer than half an hour,” he said.
Fairbanks said family members went to Birchwood airport to look for Seth when they didn’t hear from him. Around the same time, they heard about the plane that had been found.
“Knowing the color of the plane, the direction, the time, we knew it was him,” Grant Fairbanks said Saturday night.
Seth Fairbanks grew up in Bethel on his family’s homestead and was athletic and an outdoorsman, said Grant Fairbanks. Seth visited south Sudan twice to build water wells.
He was flying to Anchorage from McGrath, where he lives and works as an equipment operator.
Grant Fairbanks said the family is planning memorial services in Anchorage, McGrath and Bethel.