Around 8:30 a.m. on the day of the crash, Tucker, Blace and another hunter left Big Lake Airport and landed at an airstrip in Donkey Creek, where the hunters got off and their gear was unloaded. The pilot returned to Big Lake Airport to pick up the Piper PA-18 in order to take the hunters to the planned hunting site.
When the pilot returned to Donkey Creek, Blace boarded the plane with his gear and Tucker told the other hunter he would be back for him in about two hours.
Around 4 p.m., the other hunter who was still at the Donkey Creek airstrip contacted family members regarding the late aircraft. Around 9:30 p.m., a Federal Aviation Administration alert notice was issued for the overdue aircraft.
Here’s some more detailed information from the NTSB’s report:
The airplane departed from Donkey Creek about 1150, and no further communications were received from the pilot or passenger. About 1600, after the airplane did not return to Donkey Creek, the hunter contacted family members using a satellite messaging device, to see if they were aware of the overdue airplane’s status. Over the next several hours, family members and friends attempted to communicate with the pilot and passenger’s satellite messaging devices, but those attempts were unsuccessful. About 2130, a Federal Aviation Administration alert notice (ALNOT) was issued for the overdue airplane.Search and rescue operations began that evening by the Alaska Air National Guard Rescue Coordination Center (AKRCC). Initial search flights were then suspended due to poor weather in the identified search area.