Aircraft That Crashed Onto Frozen Lake Iliamna Was Operated By SEND, Formerly Of Glennallen

Five Occupants Of Cessna Had Serious Injuries, Medevaced To Anchorage Hospitals  Recalls Tragic 1981 Loss Of Mission Plane  A Cessna that cr...

Five Occupants Of Cessna Had Serious Injuries, Medevaced To Anchorage Hospitals 

Recalls Tragic 1981 Loss Of Mission Plane 

A Cessna that crashed into the ice at Lake Iliamna March 5th, 2022 triggered an extensive rescue involving local and state volunteers, and major formal medical services.  

The Alaska State Trooper report on the incident, dated March 5th and 6th, did not name the owner of the plane, but did reference the tail number.  The plane's tail number, N1853Q, shows that it is owned by "SEND NORTH" out of Anchorage, and is a 1975 fixed wing single engine Cessna with 6 seats. 

Lake Iliamna March 2022 SEND Airplane Crash Site (Photo, Alaska State Troopers) 

Historical Ties To The Copper Valley 
The original organization of SEND was incorporated under another name, "Central Alaskan Missions" by Pastor Vince Joy, who arrived in Copper Center in 1937 with his wife Beckie and their son, Jim. The Joy family became extremely influential in the development of Glennallen. 

As Central Alaskan Missions, the organization grew in the Copper Valley.  In the tradition of Glennallen (which began as a DOT road-building highway camp), "The Mission" – as it was known – set up a major subdivision on "Mission Hill" in the center of town. 

Missionaries played a key role in the Copper Valley's culture for decades. The Mission operated Cross Road Medical Center, Alaska Bible College, and KCAM Radio. 

In its earlier days, Cross Road was known as "Faith Hospital."

Central Alaskan Missions also "seeded" a number of local small churches in various surrounding communities, including Gulkana, Mendeltna and Copper Center. 

The Mission operated a sophisticated and self-reliant operation out of Glennallen for many years, with inbound and outgoing missionaries working in a number of fields, including medicine, education, outreach and communications. Many people worked at the Mission. Housing was provided for missionaries, and, for awhile, there was a commissary and even a postal service pickup point on Mission grounds in Glennallen. 

The organization operated airplanes for its remote missionary efforts. 

Eventually, the Mission became SEND. And then SEND split off and set up shop in Palmer and Anchorage. 

Cross Road, KCAM and the Bible College are now all totally independent, according to the current SEND website. The organization known as SEND continues, though. It now operates in Alaska and Northern Canada, along with Ukraine, Central Asia, and Russia, the website says.  

1981 Crash Of Mission Plane Kills Five 
In September, 1981, a Beechcraft Bonanza, which was owned by Central Alaskan Missions in Glennallen, disappeared with four missionaries and "an adviser" on board in the Gulf of Alaska. 

The organization owned and operated four planes at that time. 

Among the dead were: Bill Ballou and Wanda Ediger of Central Alaskan Missions in Glennallen, Phillip Armstrong and Paul Mortenson both of Detroit, and Paul Backlund of Cooper Landing. Backlund was the pilot. 

At that time the parent organization for Central Alaskan Missions was known as "Far Eastern Gospel Crusade" and had its headquarters in Detroit. 

The plane was heading from Petersburg (where they were working on a new radio station) back to Glennallen. Hunters thought they heard a plane hit a glacier near Cape Yakataga, in the middle of the night, at 3 am, reports at the time said. The pilot was having engine trouble and was out of fuel. He radioed in and said he was trying to land on a beach, reports said. 

Apparently, he had tried to land at the Cape Yakataga airport, but the lights weren't working. 

The plane was not found. 

Another SEND plane, as seen on SEND's current website. 


Location: Lake Iliamna
Type: Aircraft Crash
Dispatch Text:

Update 3/6/22 3:15 pm: All five occupants of the aircraft are continuing to receive medical care at Anchorage are hospitals. Their statuses are Serious (1), Fair (1), Stable (3).

Original: On March 5, 2022, at 1:07 pm, the Alaska State Troopers were notified of an ELT activation in the Lake Iliamna area. The signal was determined to be coming from approximately 200 miles southwest of Anchorage and 8 miles southwest of Iliamna, on the frozen offshore waters of Lake Iliamna. The Alaska Wildlife Troopers immediately launched an R44 helicopter from King Salmon to the area while local crews and private aircraft from Iliamna attempted to access the area. Rescue teams and Troopers located a Cessna 206 Aircraft with tail number N1853Q that had been destroyed in the crash. All five adult occupants of the aircraft were alive but had sustained serious injuries.

The Alaska Air National Guard at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson and the US Coast Guard at Kodiak dispatched helicopter rescue teams to the area. Poor weather conditions initially prevented the Air Guard and USCG helicopter crews from making it to the area. At approximately 6 pm both helicopter rescue teams arrived at the crash site and hoisted all five injured persons from the scene. They were then transported by helicopter to Iliamna and then medevaced to Anchorage area hospitals using both Air Guard and LifeMed fixed-wing aircraft. The current medical status of the five plane occupants is not known.

The NTSB was notified of the incident, and they will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety wishes to thank the following agencies for their tenacity in persevering through severe weather conditions and participation in this operation including the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, Alaska Air National Guard, United States Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, LifeMed, Iliamna Clinic, Lake and Peninsular Airlines, Iliamna Air Taxi, and the volunteer SAR members and residents of Iliamna and local area; whose team efforts were truly appreciated.


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