304th Rescue Squadron Supports Search, Rescue of Downed Civilian Aircraft
By 943rd Rescue Group public affairs, 920th Rescue Wing
/ Published November 20, 2020
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. --
The 304th Rescue Squadron sent three Pararescue Specialists Nov. 18 to assist civilian agencies in locating a downed aircraft near Mt. Hood, Oregon.
Just after 6 a.m. on Nov. 16, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office was made aware of a small plane may have crashed in a remote area of the Mt. Hood National Forest in Clackamas county.
The Cessna 150 left Salem, Oregon, that morning; the pilot planned to stop in Troutdale, Oregon before continuing on to Idaho and then Utah.
The pilot reported having trouble due to bad weather and reported that ice was beginning to form on the plane. The pilot expressed his intent to change destinations; aircraft controllers lost contact with the plane a few minutes later.
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue (SAR) Coordinators launched a mission to locate and then respond to the presumed crash scene enlisting help from many local, state, and federal search agencies.
The downed aircraft is believed to have crashed in Fish Creek Basin, approximately seven miles from the closest access point.
This is considered one of the more difficult wilderness areas to reach and wildfire damage has left the area additionally hazardous and difficult to navigate; challenges include an approximate 7,000-foot elevation gain, land and rock slides, fallen trees, and a lack of a navigable trail system.
The search team was not able to reach the suspected site on Nov. 17 due to these adverse conditions.
On Wednesday morning search and rescue personnel tried to locate a better access point using 4x4 vehicles but were unsuccessful.
A request came to the 304th Rescue Squadron for their expertise in personnel recovery in difficult terrain.
Three Pararescue Specialists, known as PJ’s, and two Navy Search and Rescue Med Techs left Portland on a U.S. Navy MH-60 helicopter to the search location.
The 304th RQS trains, equips, and deploys Combat Rescue Officers, Pararescue Specialists, and support personnel worldwide in the interest of U.S. national security. The 304th RQS is part of the 943rd Rescue Group located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona and is a geographically separated unit of the 920th RQW.
The 304th Pararescue Specialists returned to the base early Thursday morning, Nov. 19, after successfully finding the downed plane. Weather and terrain prevented a hoist extraction.
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