Empty handed, searchers return home

After 20 days and 400 flight hours of combing the Yukon/Alaska wilderness, Canadian search-and-rescue officials have called off the 20-day search for a missing single-engine plane.

After 20 days and 400 flight hours of combing the Yukon/Alaska wilderness, Canadian search-and-rescue officials have called off the 20-day search for a missing single-engine plane.

Aircraft are returning to base empty-handed.

On June 20, pilot Gary Patigler, 70, and wife Ingrid, 68, took off from Wolf Lake, Alaska bound for Whitehorse. When the couple failed to show up three hours later at the Whitehorse Airport, search-and-rescue aircraft soon took to the air on

both sides of the border.

Overall, five military and nine civilian aircraft participated in the Canadian search. At one point, the search’s Whitehorse headquarters counted 90 personnel.

The effort was the first “major” search in Western Canada since 2007. That search, which combed interior BC for biologist Ron Boychuk, also came up empty-handed. In the Yukon, searchers covered an area greater than 21,000 square kilometers, roughly half the size of Nova Scotia.

The search has now been handed to the RCMP, who are treating it as a missing-persons case.

(Tristin Hopper)

Canadian Forces representatives could not provide the cost of the 20-day search. (Tristin Hopper)