Alaska Air National Guard
Joins Search for Japanese Balloonist
HC-130 Hercules concentrates
search 420 miles south of Adak
January 04, 2008
The Alaska Air National Guard is assisting in the search for
a missing Japanese hot-air balloonist.
The U.S. Coast Guard officially requested the help of the Alaska
Air National Guard over the weekend to search for Japanese balloonist
On Sunday, Feb. 3, around 6 a.m. the 211th Rescue Squadron launched
an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Kulis Air National Guard Base
in Anchorage. The HC-130 flew to Shemya to refuel before heading
south another two hours to the search area.
According to the Rescue Coordination Center, the search area
is about 420 miles south of Adak.
"We're using his last known coordinates, tide tables, and
upper airflow analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, NASA and U.S. Coast Guard buoys to narrow down
the search area," said Capt. Jeffrey Meinel, of the Rescue
Coordination Center. "He had a survival pod with him in
the balloon, so we're conducting a parallel search based on visibility
to look for this pod."
The survival pod is described as six-and-a-half feet high, with
approximately one-third of it out of the water. The Rescue Coordination
Center received reports that Kanda, 58, had an emergency locator
transmitter on the balloon as well; however, no one has received
a signal from it.
The Alaska Air National Guard's HC-130 had enough fuel to search
for four hours on Sunday before heading back to Shemya. It launched
again around noon Monday to search another four hours. The plan
calls for the aircraft to return to Kulis Air National Guard
Base after the four-hour search is complete.
The U.S. Coast Guard District 17 out of Juneau is leading the
search operation and will determine the next step if nothing
is found again Monday.
Kanda was attempting to travel 5,600 miles from Tochigi, Japan,
to Portland, Ore., in a hot-air balloon. He was last heard from
Thursday when he called his support team via satellite phone.
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