In 1962, my father was in a light plane crash while he and two other FAA fellows were partaking of the spectacular fishing somewhere along the Kuskowim River. I was just a kid, but as I recall they had been fishing along a remote section of the river in the middle of the maze of sloughs and coastal tundra the Alaskan bush has to offer. The fishing would have been good virtually anywhere, but they had used a gravelly bank to land. They had spent a Saturday fishing and were taking off to come home when the little Piper Cub stalled and went down before it could get very far off the ground. They suffered only superficial injuries, but the plane took a beating and there was no way of repairing it enough to get it back up.
The Kuskokwim River is huge. It is the recipient of most of the watershed of a vast region of the west part of the vast state of Alaska. It is over 700 miles long. Looking at a map or a globe, a person cannot even get a hint of the vastness of the geography, nor of the harshness of the environment. In its lower regions it is wide, too. I recall standing on the bank of the river in Bethel as a child barely able to make out the outline of the other bank. And the river goes on and on and on. With all the tributaries and possible fishing spots, finding a tiny little plane without the benefit of a flight plan is comparable to finding that proverbial needle in the hay and what-not.
No flight plan had been filed, which was standard fare during those days in the Alaskan Bush. Few people had cars, but many had planes, so it was not that big a deal to fly out into the middle of nowhere without taking adequate precautions. For the edification of my grand-kids, regarding their great granddad was not flying. I feel sure that he would have taken better precautions. Dad was among the most level-headed and diligent people I have ever known. However it happened, no one knew where they were and they had to fend for themselves for days until the FAA search and rescue efforts were miraculously able to locate them. Even then, they were socked-in and had to wait a day more to be rescued.
You can read the full details and watch a short video clip about how to do this at the following link.