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304th Rescue Squadron supporting search, rescue of downed civilian aircraft

Portland SAR

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 Nov. 18, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andre Trinidad)

Portland SAR

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 Nov. 18, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andre Trinidad)

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. --

The 304th Rescue Squadron here sent three pararescue specialists to assist civilian agencies in locating a downed aircraft Nov. 18 near Mount Hood, Oregon.

Just after 6 a.m. on Nov. 16, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office was made aware of a small plane that may have crashed in a remote area of the Mount Hood National Forest in Clackamas County.

The Cessna 150 left Salem, Oregon, that morning. The planned route was to stop in Troutdale, Oregon, before continuing on to Idaho and then Utah. The pilot reported experiencing trouble due to bad weather and reported that ice was beginning to form on the plane. The pilot expressed his intent to change destinations. Air traffic 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 elevation gain of nearly 7,000 feet, 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 location on Nov. 17 due to these adverse conditions.

On Wednesday morning, civilian search and rescue personnel tried to locate a better access point using 4x4 vehicles but were unsuccessful.

A request came in to the 304 RQS for their expertise in personnel recovery in difficult terrain. Three PJ’s and two Navy Search and Rescue medical technicians left Portland on a U.S. Navy MH-60 helicopter to the search location. The search is on-going at the time of this news release.

The 304 RQS trains, equips, and deploys combat rescue officers, pararescue specialists, and support personnel worldwide in the interest of U.S. national security. The 304 RQS is part of the 943rd Rescue Group located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, and is a geographically-separated unit of the 920 Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.