The Island
Missing in Alaska

[00:00:00.05]
Hi, guys, I'm Katie Lowes, actress, mom and host of the parenting podcast. Chrin, a show that helps women navigate the colossal changes that come with motherhood. You'll hear from resilient mammas knowledgeable experts and me asking a whole lot of questions. It's real talk that offers real perspective on what it's really like to be a parent. New episodes publish every other Thursday. Listen to Katie's crib on I heart radio app or on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:00:36.01]
You're recording. We're on a boat. We're on the run, a 50 foot boat in Prince William Sound. The Arctic skimmer. And we are right next to Hinchinbrook Island. The cliffs are rising above. It's a beautiful, sunny day. And we're just about to turn into Port Natchez. It's the first time I've ever been on this sound. And for that, this is where the tents are told me. People assess that tail off in around 1980.

[00:01:03.02]
So it's it's really stunning. Right now, you can see, you know, distant mountains with snow. It's completely sunny. Very few clouds. And there it just seems like dramatic cliffs rising up from the water. From my heart media, this is missing in Alaska, the story of two congressmen who vanished in 1972 and my quest to figure out what happened to them. I'm your host, John Walzak. Our trip to Hinchinbrook Island almost didn't happen.

[00:01:49.02]
We just got lucky. Sun, blue sky, clear water, but only for about 48 hours. We a narrow window between storms and we seized it. Unfortunately, our boat could only accommodate four people to captains and two members of our team. So on October 12th, 2019, I flew with Paul Decken, our supervising producer from Anchorage to Cordova, a small fishing town on Prince William Sound. I've been to something like forty five out of 50 states, so I don't say this lightly.

[00:02:22.03]
Cordova is one of the most beautiful towns in America. It's right on the water, ringed by snowcapped mountains reachable only by air or sea. Its most valuable commodity, Copper River Salmon confessed more than 70 dollars per pound. Anyway, when we landed, all I had was the name of our captain Andy and his phone number. We had been so busy that the details of the search, the logistics fell to Sam Teagarden, our research assistant in Atlanta in the tiny terminal in Cordova.

[00:02:53.08]
I called Andy across the room, a skinny man with a gray beard answered. We walked over, said hi, then went outside and hopped in his truck. Andy and his wife, C1, run a company called Alaska Marine Response. They specialize in salvaging wrecked ships and cleaning up oil spills. Andy went to Cornell, where he studied natural resources with a concentration in fisheries. He moved to Alaska about 30 years ago on the way to the marina where he docks his boats.

[00:03:23.01]
Andy asked for more details on why we wanted to go to Hinchinbrook. He knew the basics that we were looking for a missing plane. But at my request, Sam hadn't told him much. We wanted to keep everything tightlipped. But Andy's a pretty smart guy, and he figured out quickly which plane the baggage. Boggs plane around nineteen eighty, I said. As we sped into town, a man named Bob Martinson, Andy stopped me. Bob, I know Bob.

[00:03:50.04]
Amazingly, coincidentally. Yes, Andy. Our captain knows Bob, the tipster who found the Cessna tail. And like everyone else with whom I spoke, he said Bob's a good guy, a fisherman who spent decades in Cordova on and off. A photographer whose images hang in a local restaurant. When we got to the marina, Andy took us to our boat, the Arctic skimmer. I went downstairs for a minute. Then above me, the radio crackled with what sounded like a mayday call.

[00:04:19.00]
I ran back up, looked out a window and saw Paul, our producer, sprinting down the dock to Andy's truck to grab our recording equipment. It seemed that our trip was start with a rescue. Someone needed help. A few minutes later, though, clarity. A boat was disabled and needed a tow. But nothing dramatic. Andy spoke with the Coast Guard, then dropped us off at his house where we had the second floor overlooking the water to ourselves.

[00:04:45.09]
The plan was to head out the next day. So Paul and I, with time to kill, went exploring down a hill onto a breaker jutting into the water. As the sun set, everything was still and silent. But for the sound of sea otters splashing about and a few birds.

[00:05:09.09]
We had dinner at the reluctant fisherman where Bob Martinson's photos hang some fitful sleep. Then the next morning, we got up early. Boarded our boat and met our other captain, Mark, who went to grad school at the University of Washington, where he studied Russian and Eastern languages before moving to Alaska. As we prepared to leave, Mark and Andy told us that the town was abuzz. A 33 year old hunter named Neil Dargo had vanished in the mountains.

[00:05:37.03]
Right before we arrived, we're kind of surmising that he's hurt because he would have easily made it back on his own. So he's heard a pie that he's been dealing with snow and super cool nights he had you know, he had a space bag in a tent, maybe some extra clothing or something.

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So a search party. A boy, huge zipping out of Cordova. We talked about Bob Martinsen and the Cessna tail he found.

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I know that the odds are like one in 20 million that we're going to find this thing. But Bob seems like a good guy. And it's Bob Martinson. That's what he's talking about. The guy he's talking to, Bobby. Yeah, Mark knows. I mean, we you guys, we all know each other. He's a Hail Mary as a fisherman. Big, tall, blond guy. Think he's a great grandfather. Something already. But yeah, so.

[00:06:37.00]
So that's it, I mean, that's why I took what he said seriously, because he seem you know, I've talked other people to study. He's a reliable guide because, you know, doing something like this get a lot of crazy people that come out of the woodwork. But I thought this was interesting because he was he's reliable. Where he found it matches up with roughly what the flight route of the missing plane. And the pilot, Don Johns, didn't make radio contact at Johnson Point.

[00:07:03.05]
And he was supposed to. And he did right before he entered Portage Pass. So most people that I've talked to think that the plane went down in the sound somewhere between Portage and Hinchinbrook. And then, you know, we were talking to Andy and I talked to another guy in Anchorage the other day. There's this little strip of land near. It's a new check. And it. Yeah, that the airstrip. Despite you land a plane, if you're going to new check and that little strip of land, can you tell me about that?

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Just to insist, just a little strip of gravel that connects, you know, a more substantial what would be an island if that was done where the town of New Check was. That strip of land is flat level lands. It's hump, but a nice. Smooth surface for a plane. Andy pulled out a map and pinpointed the spot where Bob found the tail. In Port Abcess around the corner, there's a long, narrow strip of land used by Bush pilots then and now as a rough airstrip.

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Typically, you would only want to land single engine, small planes on it. But in an emergency, it's possible that Don John's the pilot could have tried to land here near what used to be the native village of New Czech. Or he could have attempted a rough water landing adjacent to this strip and tried to swim to shore. Remember, Don made several attempts to swim 23 miles across the English Channel. He was fit and he was used to swimming in choppy water.

[00:08:36.07]
And then I was. I've talked to some pilots and looked at the weather that day and they said that the thing the wind was coming out of the southeast. And so he would have wanted if he was trying to do some kind of crash landing, he would have wanted to fly into the wind. And the way that this little strip of land is oriented is just facing southeast. If you were coming from Portage here. So, yes, we're talking to Bob.

[00:09:00.05]
Like I said, it's been 40, almost 40 years this year. He found this huge cities with his dad and another man. And they're both dead. But. He's he said, I went back and reread this this morning. He said that the troopers in Cordova expressed interest that it was related to the baggage plan. And, you know, it's been 40 years. But one of the things that we've talked about is whether or not he brought the tail piece.

[00:09:32.08]
And and he doesn't really remember. He knows he gave us the numbers, whatever. He might have written them down. And when people are out fishing, what are the boats that come bring them supplies? Call it tender's hunters. Yeah, he told me he they might have sent it back on a tender or. But he doesn't really remember. But he told me that there were at least four characters and there were six on the missing plane. And so the question is, if there were four characters out of six on it, like, you know, like you said, the man in the right order, be a match.

[00:10:06.08]
Two to two like. So I think this is the best lead as to the plane's location that I've ever heard. And I think it's probably the best leader 50 years.

[00:10:20.00]
We also discussed how Bob found the tail in the lead of his net, Sam.

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He liked to run along the beach. They don't always, but they like doing that. So the idea is to cut him off with the net lead so that don't. Go into the deeper part of the net and say. They try to keep him in there. And then you first and then you recover your net. Hold very end. Yeah. The lead is normally the it is the shallow end of the net. What would that indicate? Maybe that was just the net was big.

[00:10:57.03]
Well, it is kind of a Grammy thing. And he drags up all kinds of stuff, going to space rocks and hangs up on rocks. A lot of kelp. You know, it's kind of grabby. Could grab something down there. That's. Pointy, jagged wood, everybody. Definitely a. The tail end of a plane is. Quite possibly. I'm not surprised. It was interesting. I think I said this earlier, what's interesting is he found something.

[00:11:35.09]
Yeah. So it's it's like even if it wasn't this particular plane, I wonder which one it was. Well, this is a kind of a. Pinpoints it kind of you know, we know where he found it. It's not a big area. It's we know it's her. Yes. And it's indicating it's on the shallow, you know, near the beach, the shallower area. So. Kind of narrows it down quite a bit. I mean.

[00:12:12.04]
And I ask you guys, so we obviously I know this is not the ideal time to do this, so we're very lucky. We have beautiful weather today. I imagine the ideal time would be spring and summer. Sometimes a better summers in general is better weather. But there's no guarantee ever. You know, June, you have the longest days so you can make better use of weather windows and generally nicer weather. I mean, so if you were to pick one spot in the year, one month of the year, that would be ideal for doing stuff on the water.

[00:12:52.00]
June is about as good as it gets. But it doesn't mean it can't blow. Seventy five. One hundred to at any given week, you know. Here's. This is a nice window, actually. You see the way this wind is coming. Once we go around that island, we'll be in the lead. So we'll we'll be pretty sheltered in there. And then this helps knock down the swell that's ours, because otherwise you'd get wraparound swell in there.

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And that makes it tough getting stuff on and off the boat. If we're, you know, doing getting this, I mean, how shallow can this boat get? I mean, what is what would be like the minimum depth? We can touch really it's to ice plus Paul. It's built really thick, so it's made the beach so we could drive up, you know, a nice beach rock, you know, a nice, nice, slow beach.

[00:13:49.09]
We can drive up to it. So if you found that the tail of a Cessna here, if if it didn't originate, if the plane had a crashed right in this area. Do you have any idea where would have been brought in from? That would be tough, you know. The thing is that if I think of it, a tale of a if a plane wrecks, let's say there's some possibility there that there could have been a bomb planted on the plane.

[00:14:26.07]
Right where. Most of the time when you load a plane, you load all the light things in the stern and the tail and including. Dry bags with your survival gear and stuff like that. So if the tail could have been buoyant for a long time and floated so the plane could have crashed somewhere else and currents could have brought it in there or could have southeast wind like a wooden boat that would have taken it elsewhere usually. But it might have gone out and then the weather changed and then went in.

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But it's that's not a classic collection spot like the current stone. Most of the stuff that happens out in the Gulf ends up like Maquette Island or over here. They don't. It doesn't go in there. That's. What you like, what you seem to indicate to you that that would ever play? This was probably went down in that area. Yeah. That it's a good bet that its engines and the rest of it aren't too far away. Putting.

[00:15:43.09]
If there was a part of a plane that could drift, it would be the tail. A few hours later. We're on a boat. We're on the run, a 50 foot boat in Prince William Sound, the Arctic skimmer. And we are right next to Hinchinbrook Island. The cliffs are rising above. It's a beautiful, sunny day and we're just about to turn into port. And then there we were, the exact spot to that rock formation just right off there around 1980, man.

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And two other men found this awesome tail somewhere out here. They were seen fishing as we idled.

[00:16:24.09]
We took stock of our equipment. Unfortunately, we did not have two very important tools, side scan sonar and a magnetometer, which would have helped a lot. We couldn't get them in time, but we did have to ARV's or remotely operated vehicles, small tethered submersibles with cameras. If you've seen Titanic, you know what they look like. They're used at the beginning of the movie to explore wreckage. One of ours belonged to Andy, the other to the Prince William Sound Science Center, which kindly lent it to us.

[00:16:57.05]
Anything you tell us about this ROV in particular, like what its capabilities or how? It's a it's a high resolution camera. It's the highest resolution camera we have. We're rigging it right now. Kind of like a controlled drop camera so we can thrust and tip, but we're going to drag it with the boat just so we can cover more area than we could if we were stopped swimming around with it.

[00:17:31.08]
We also had diving equipment and a crane just in case we found something interesting. Say the plane ticket.

[00:17:44.08]
The ROV. So it's in the water. No water. The research in that way starts playing the real. But in difference, I can. Let's just let's have it go over this side of the. So this one 40, 50 family, that at least 40. Forty thousand dollars. So this that point right there, that's probably what we're looking at. And so around here, this is that this rounded part and then that jagged rock area, that is that's probably this.

[00:18:54.09]
And that's where he said he found that piece. So be right over there around those rocks. Yeah. Yeah. Right there. Right.

[00:19:03.01]
Or the ROV is now on a screen. We watched as the ROV descended.

[00:19:08.07]
He's had a jellyfish stolen by the camera. See more jellyfish over the years. Don't they proliferate? There's always been a lot of gels, but maybe a few more. A few years ago, we had a really bad jellyfish season. Sank a couple of boats. They were so. So thick. So a couple of boats. The sailors would catch so many jellies that they'd roll over like they could, their nets would pack up and they're trying to catch fish in the gel's block.

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The. The opening of the web and just rolled over. So I can literally take a boat down. Good enough with them so you can go down a little more. Mark, I can't yet see the bottom. OK. I can see the bottom. Stop. Yeah, so I've seeing the bottom, which is a visibility pretty good. Hasn't hasn't rained in. Few days, which would muddy everything I. Yeah, I don't think there's any.

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There's always Crick's, but I don't think there's anything really big. So unusual this time of the year to be able to see of the bottom actually winter, that is higher, better visibility because at plankton is can be your biggest problem. And of course, the colder it is, less likely they're blooming this summer. Plankton is can really make sink soupy.

[00:21:01.07]
You know, as Mark steered the ROV, aiming its camera side to side, we stared at the green tinted screen, water, rocks, plants, fish to minimize glare. We covered the screen with a black sheet and crawled underneath. Much better. We were just doing it.

[00:21:20.02]
Tests above water. See, this is come back and show you this. You want to that's a sea otter hole, they come down, dig and get clams and mussels and stuff. What do you need? Just kind of curious. Should it come back? Maybe just turn off the down thruster and let's just see where it ends. Are you are you using the propulsion or is the boat pulling at the boats pulling it? I'm using its propulsion, take it.

[00:21:57.04]
It's pretty simple to use or as a kind of tricky. So it's it's kind of like a videogame. You kind of get you know, once you figure out which fingers doing what, you know, how you get better at over time. But. Spies, you spy, a 14 year old can use it better than I could. So it's something that we could use for monitors. Yeah.

[00:22:26.03]
I took control of the ROV. It is Zippy. It's really surprising. He kind of took to expecting it to be slower. So use the propulsion, obviously, to aim it. But does does it kind of stabilize on its own? If you just let go? Should be seen the bottom conservancy. You said where the claw where the claw is right here. Yes. This ROV also had a remote controlled claw.

[00:22:59.03]
How would I tell to see the claw? So this. Great. Same thing on the other side. Cool. You're looking down. It's not super close and super quick, but it's quick enough, it's not quick enough for that very flat shell. Now for fish. So much for fish.

[00:23:34.00]
Let me stop for a minute and meditate on how bizarre all of this was, how surreal. Here I was often island in Alaska navigating an ROV as we searched underwater for a missing plane that carried two U.S. congressman. To be honest, I didn't quite think the answer to can we charter a boat and go search for the plane would be yes. This is a podcast. But the answer was yes. So, yeah. Anyway, four hours, we use the ROV to search for wreckage.

[00:24:07.00]
A lot of eelgrass, but no plane. Later, a change of plans.

[00:24:21.05]
Hi, guys, I'm Katie Lowes, actress, mom and host of the parenting podcast. Katie's Crib, a show that helps women navigate the big shifts which motherhood can bring. This season, you'll hear from resilient moms like actress Gabrielle Union. Thought leaders like author of the New York Times best seller Untamed Glenn and Doyle. And experts like prenatal and postpartum clinical psychologist Dr. Alissa Berlin. We get candid about our experiences and share resources for everything parenting, endometriosis, surrogacy, divorce and blended families emotionally preparing for postpartum.

[00:24:57.02]
Katie's crib is covering it all for a dose of comfort and community with those who understand the struggles and the joys of raising tiny humans. Subscribe now four brand new episodes. Every other Thursday, listen to Katie's crib on I Heart Radio app or an Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:25:49.03]
We hopped into a Zodiac craft, a small inflatable boat with a motor, and started zooming around, taking advantage of the ultra clear water to conduct a visual search, looking to the floor below. Because amazingly, yes, it was clear enough to see to the bottom, at least in shallow water. We also landed briefly on Hinchinbrook itself.

[00:26:12.06]
I wonder where they're on the map. There was some like inland water feature. I wonder where that is. Is that an order? Oh, yeah, there's a. So we're standing on the shore of Hinchinbrook Island. We're kind of on the edge of the trees and the sun is going down. And we just rode up in a Zodiac boat off the bigger boat. And so now we're gonna wander into the woods and hopefully not get eaten by bears or this is going to kind of be Blair Witch.

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When you find this. This audio we didn't have long on the island, but we plan to return back in the Zodiac. Escape from Hinchinbrook.

[00:26:55.08]
So. And back to the Arctic skimmer. Exhausted. We anchored for the night. As the sun sank in the distance, we spotted something walking on the beach. How far are we from shore?

[00:27:20.06]
Oh, couple of yards or more from him. Maybe yards from him.

[00:27:28.01]
Him was a large brown bear. Where do you go? Do you go behind a rock or something? So we've all the four of us have been tracking the bear with binoculars. I don't think he went into the bushes. He's just behind me. Is this your first bear ever? Yeah, well, yeah. OK. Yes. This is this is my third.

[00:27:56.06]
I saw one in North Carolina, one in Washington State and the North Cascades. This be the third, but the first brown bear. It's unusually colored one. Yeah.

[00:28:08.07]
I mean, I got some even I was taking pictures through the binoculars. Oh yeah.

[00:28:12.05]
So I was using what was unusual, but it had a blonde collar and then Blondie years and a lot darker brown coat. Oh, here you go. Yeah. That was through the binoculars. Yes.

[00:28:27.01]
Wow. Yeah. So I was doing that. Yeah. So yeah. Sure. So I mean it's a much better closer picture. Wow. I mean we tried that. It's, it's hard. You have to stay super stable so I have to find it with my eyes and then hold my phone up. You know, in the perfect spot and then try to quickly get some pictures. But I got video of it, too.

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After a few minutes, the bear cross between two rock formations and disappeared.

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So the bear's gone now for a minute. I want you to close your eyes. You're on a boat. Vast body of water. Twilight, you see distant mountains backlit by a fading glow.

[00:29:10.04]
Cold, wind, calm. You're a tiny dot in a dark wild. We were anchored for the night in Port Duchesse, not far from where we were looking for the Cessna tail with ROV is and were a few hundred feet off a beach. We just saw a brown bear walking on it for a while and we were all just tracking it with binoculars and marks, making dinner right now. Stir-Fry downstairs and we're all talking about the best way to eat moose.

[00:29:44.08]
And what you see something moving on the beach there. And binoculars. Wait. Okay. Lost it now. What's it in the grass or on the. It's like close to us. It's like. It's like. I I can't see it now. But in that little rocky, that lighter rock color stuff. Anyway, sorry. No, it's all good. And so we're in this one poor duchess, which is sheltered and we're surrounded by all these rocky hills.

[00:30:22.04]
And yeah, I mean, today we went from Cordova on to Prince William Sound and all the way to Hinchinbrook and into Port Natchez. And we used to our novis to look for the plane. And then we we hopped in the zodiac and the water was so clear, amazingly, and that we just kind of did a visual search near the shoreline. We didn't see anything, but we also landed on the beach and went into into the woods. But, um, it's really serene and peaceful.

[00:31:04.01]
There are two other boats in. Poor duchies right now other than us, but we're kind of far away from them. So we're just hunker down for the night with the sun going down. Not too much light left. And he's. That needs to be talking about hopes for tomorrow. So tomorrow we're going to use the ROV as an area. So we didn't search today and we're also hopefully going to go out on the Zodiac and see if the water is still super clear, if we can cover more ground when the light is better, when the sun's right above us.

[00:31:41.00]
So we did it kind of late in the day today and we were close to shore. But but. Yeah. So, I mean, we found the exact spot that was pinpointed to us where the Cessna tails pulled up. And we've been just using the ROV slick around that area. We're concentrated in a very specific spy in port. Jess. I mean, I'm excited for dinner. It's getting colder, it is actually really nice today. It was it was sunny and it was more my points.

[00:32:15.04]
And now we're on the front of the boat looking at the beach where the bear was a few minutes ago. And it's freezing cold and we're hungry that night after dinner.

[00:32:25.03]
Below deck as we fell asleep. This is what we heard.

[00:32:58.09]
So today is day two of our search and another beautiful day, Sunny. We just had breakfast stand. Andy has binoculars and is piloting the boat. Mark is on the roof of the boat. We heard his voice and we don't know where he was, but he's on the roof. And we're going to take advantage of the sunlight and the low tide and the clear water to go to the area where the tail was pulled up and see if we can see anything visually.

[00:33:25.01]
And then also use the ROV is again to cover ground that we didn't cover yesterday. So for a while, that's what we did, ROV is a visual search. But other than eel, grass and fish, again, nothing. Well, we did spot something. Yeah.

[00:33:44.08]
So we're we're right off the coast of Hinchinbrook Island and we see some rusted out wreckage on the beach. We're not really sure what it is. It looks maybe like it's part of a boat. Andy suggested we head to shore. So, John. Looking at that steel debris on the beach. And thinking of the number of storms that have happened in the last 50 years, that pushed up up being that the plane was aluminum and it could have added, there's a good chance that looking at the beach line along this point.

[00:34:18.07]
If there was something out here, it could have gotten pushed up there. We're seeing a lot of steel things that got Bush up there. It's a lot heavier, denser than aluminum. So this is interesting. I mean, it's interesting to think. I mean, at least part of it could have washed up onto the shore. Maybe not the engines. And I keep watching, but there is an engine. I keep watching the shoreline with the binoculars.

[00:34:40.00]
And I keep every you know, every 30, 40 feet. Yeah. Another piece of metal in there. Where? Just straight in from us under the idea. We have we have these. And he has these image stabilized, expensive binoculars, which are really nice because we can see pretty far. And, you know, usually the binoculars are shaking. But you press this button, it stabilizes it. So this is helpful. Mark and Andy prep the Zodiac River radio.

[00:35:14.06]
We have air horn flares. On Channel 10, if you see a bear coming towards us. Yeah, we all got to get the boat. Yeah. We climbed in and took off. So that the wreckage, the medal that we saw is further down, shoring up, we're trying to get a little bit of shelter from this.

[00:36:17.04]
Bye. Get out. Yeah. Kind of stuck in Baghdad. You got some rocks here, you're going to build a hospital. Go, go, go. If you're Peter. Sure. So is Andy. I feel like I'm not far from the month to hesitantly mine on for now. Yeah, they're worms.

[00:36:58.08]
Yeah, I am living on the life us. We combed our way down the beach.

[00:37:14.02]
For a minute, I disappeared into the woods. John? Yeah? Where are you? I'm on the ground. OK. OK. As we picked up debris. Steel. We looked closely for pieces of aluminum, the missing plane was made mostly of aluminum. Again, not a not a 55 gallon drum. Part of an old boat. Paul and I kept showing any anything that seemed remotely interesting.

[00:38:14.07]
So you're on just pick up this piece of hose here off the beach, which we're looking at. It's got some steel reinforcing and a braided core doesn't look typically Marine. It looks like expensive construction kind of shielded. Could be possibly aircraft. We don't see any numbers or. What makes you say that it's not Marine? How can you just just because of that, you have a you have a lot of room in Marine compared to aircraft. So you would be able to instead of buying a hose, there would be this expensive construct.

[00:39:00.07]
You would run it away from know had to get close to heat or some reason they had that shielded hose. I think it's worth saving. Sure. Did you see about the MH 370 guy, the guy who would go around and like the Maltese and he went hunting for pieces of the plane? They actually found a few his article in The Atlantic about it recently. So this is copper wire. It's all rolled up like it was a part of storage.

[00:39:32.04]
It was amazing what Andy could tell from even the smallest piece of debris by the type of wood or nail or metal or how something was constructed. He could say, this is from a boat or this is pre 1940. And it must be past two o'clock. Yeah, I think it is, because the tide looks like it's going down. You have to away. I know it was old seeing this photo close. You telling me anymore about it? No.

[00:40:08.07]
It's interesting because it looks like. Like I said, with nails sticking up. So we're seeing these stacked planks and a little bit of a broom right back there and definitely a wall. And you can see here the blue and in that square nails in that deck plank I picked up back there and got this. This where is this a. Yes, this is a tank. And where's the rest of the hole? Like, is this. And is that Pashto part of it?

[00:40:49.03]
I see there's a plastic coat closet where nails. They tell you that they do. They do, except for pretty much Johnny Wooden construction is older.

[00:41:02.04]
After combing through the wreckage for a bit. We moved on and kept looking for clues.

[00:41:07.07]
Yeah, we found another piece of aluminum. Nice stainless steel. They would feel. The kitchen sink. We found the sink. It's things I thought of. You guys see John? Yeah, right where I'm pointing, there's something white. I think it's a rock, but I can't really toying with the branches.

[00:41:36.02]
Oh, I see.

[00:41:39.07]
It's like rounded, I think. Is it a rock? He's gone.

[00:41:46.04]
Classic. OK.

[00:41:53.00]
In addition to a literal kitchen sink. We found a checker piece. A child's flip flop. A car bumper. Dead jelly fish. The carcass of an eagle and a ton of garbage. And I mean a ton of garbage. We've essentially turned the earth into a rotating landfill, trash and plastic everywhere, even here on this otherwise pristine island. The sheer amount of trash made our job hard. So much crap to sift through, but sift through it.

[00:42:19.07]
We did. You know, it kind of reminds me of D.B. Cooper, because that one kid digging on a beach found some of the money and it's just like that kid happened to be digging at the right spot at the right time and found a clue. And so, you know, we're sitting here like combing through shift wreckage and and garbage. And, you know, one piece could be an answer. Then for the first time, a piece of aluminum that wasn't a can casting's with that suddenly cast an aluminum casting rubber hose.

[00:43:08.07]
So the shape of it sort of looks like a ball housing. It's got this would have been the finished edge. Probably why it was crowded. It would probably have been something steel and then it would come around and had another machine. What exactly was left off the back of the engine would just spend like a cover that day.

[00:43:33.00]
Flywheel would have sat in and we kept it and moved on.

[00:43:40.05]
Kind of small strip of metal. Back there. That there. Stainless steel looks like it was part of a clamp. Be my guest solely from a boat. Probably. I mean, stands clamps are used to hold hoses, boats, airplanes, all kinds of mechanical things.

[00:44:23.01]
I mean, to really find something that we could identify as part of the plane, what would it take? I mean, other than to tell no one like that cowling, you know, that was turned out to be Honda. Yeah, they have a sense now. We'll have a definite right on the front. That's like you say, it's a plastic piece. That's I mean, that would be like a smoking gun. Any any of the chunks of a plain aluminum like that are riveted and have a lot of different things.

[00:44:57.01]
So we could find a chunk of wing. We would know that it was airplane related and then we could look back and see by people that really know airplanes better. What type of airplane was this? And then maybe get closer to the idea. Could it be the one? That's a beautiful piece of wood. They're searching in a creek nearby. I found a lead patch probably from a boat that sank again.

[00:45:24.06]
If people will say what wood chunk of an airplane washed ashore made of aluminum. This is made of lead. It washed ashore or you found it up the creek from the high tide. So definitely things get pushed up like this was a good idea. I mean, you know, given the situation, we probably have a better chance of finding. I think so. On the shore? I think so. And we're able to search so thoroughly, you know, looking at the rocks where the eelgrass, that was one thing.

[00:46:00.00]
The ROV is quickly became tangled in the air field like real grass. The thirst, the thrusters. And she's good we have you along, though, because you can identify this. I wouldn't really, you know, barring something blatantly obvious, like a winning one. Yeah. I still put these on places where we, you know, we look at. OK. That doesn't necessarily need to be repaired, but we'd like to protect it. So far so far, I the beach, we've only found one piece of non can aluminum.

[00:46:28.04]
Yeah. That piece that we found back there. Right. That yeah. That was a cast piece of aluminum tooth and we're fairly certain that would not be from an airplane. That the engine parts could be cast. It could be parts that are bolted to the engine that are cast. It wasn't it wasn't necessarily a shape that would preclude it from being from an airplane. Might as well take it backwards. We can take it back. Yeah. If there's somebody that might.

[00:46:59.02]
That's an expert. We know more about him, but we're used in a lot of Marine engines as well.

[00:47:06.02]
Aluminum cast like that. So the plane, if the plane is sitting somewhere under the water here or if it's broken into pieces, you think it's still be whatever's left of it would still be in pretty good shape. Aluminum does pretty well in this climate under water. So it could be covered with marine growth. But yeah. Yeah, it could be. I mean, especially if it for whatever reason, it's entombed in mud. I mean, it might be preserved pretty well.

[00:47:55.00]
Right. We're able to find it. Just keep having this image with the ROV yesterday of the tail and seeing that FEMA number pop up. But we don't know if that. We're not sure if the tail was pulled up and delivered to the tender to take the grid over or just the numbers were transferred. Right. That was a little bit of a bob, really. Remember that.

[00:48:15.03]
And I wonder, I mean, the number might have been in more than one place. I mean, at the main, you know, would have been at one prominent place. Battling the tide now. Oh, boy. Losing daylight. We doubled back. So we're about to get on a part of the beach directly opposite from where Bob Founda. You can feel like a message. Carbon clip. Boggs's here. As the tide rose, we reached a massive rock formation jutting into the water, blocking us.

[00:49:59.03]
Is there a way around that side? Well, I could hop up on here, but I just don't know how steep it is on the other side.

[00:50:08.05]
It's manageable. You might want to go down there. Say what?

[00:50:16.09]
Where are you at? I'm on the other side now. I'm behind you. Oh, OK. Yeah, you can you you can go. Got to get on your knees and crawl. Going to grab a. You might want. Useful, yes. So Paul is crawling almost on his stomach under a big rock formation. And he's through. You know, I know it's unlikely, but when you do something like that, I just can't help but imagine this thing collapsing while I was waiting until I was waiting till you got out.

[00:51:06.06]
Now, would you like me to just shimmy down the side and like that?

[00:51:12.09]
Our time on the island ran out.

[00:51:16.02]
You know, Mark, you saw there, right here in the galley is waiting for you in my world, famous for Etches Spaghetti Dinner. All right.

[00:51:30.03]
Well, we walked up bit day where you turned around and we're headed your way. So we'll see you in a little bit. Mark picked us up in the Zodiac. Like the assorted O stuff that I'm bringing back. I found a lot of stuff, but this is the stuff we weren't quite sure about. Getting water over the side. Changed my socks. I got back her sock. I only got one water. Flood. We found a lot from that one shipwreck, whatever it was.

[00:52:18.07]
Pretty cool boat. Wooden beams and planks and square nails. Definitely. Oh. Oh. Oh, oh. Construction. Is your nails anymore climbing up a ladder onto the Arctic skimmer? I set down the debris I kept, including the piece of cast aluminum, and I changed my sock for dinner. Spaghetti. Then it was time to leave. Andy navigated us out of Port Etches, but before he got too far. I asked him to stop for a minute.

[00:52:57.01]
So we're just off the coast of Hinchinbrook. But specifically, new check. And there's a really narrow strip of land. And we've talked to some pilots who say that this is a good place to land a plane and they use it actually now to land planes, small planes. It's like a very long, narrow strip of land, Rocky, Sandy. And it's surrounded it's framed by these these mountains, these really tall, maybe like a thousand feet high, really high.

[00:53:30.05]
But so if we run on the hypothesis that the tailpiece that was found in Port Duchesse belongs to the plane, we're looking for trying to figure out. Well, you have this perfect landing strip. Why would you have gone around the corner and ended up in Port Dachas? I mean, maybe a few explanations. The plane could've gone down around here and the tailpiece got dragged around the corner. Maybe the visibility was really bad. And Don was the pilot was trying to turn around to come back and land this spot.

[00:54:05.05]
I mean, there are different explanations, but it's really weird to see this in person. I've seen this on Google Maps so many times that to be here with these thousand foot tall mountains and this rugged, beautiful water. But yes, so we're about to head back to Cordova. We're leaving Hinchingbrooke behind, and if we come back here with more equipment, we would love to search this area off this long landing strip. I mean, honestly, I feel good.

[00:54:41.01]
I feel what I'm asking myself. I feel I. I feel like this trip was worth it because I got a really good understanding of the geography of the area of this strip of land that I've seen on a map. But I've never seen a person of how tall the mountains are, of what port that just looks like. And when we went to this spot that Bob told us he found the Cessna tail, we got a much better idea of where he would have set his nets and where he could theoretically have pulled up the tailpiece.

[00:55:14.02]
And you could kind of narrow it down to this very specific area. And Andy Mark helped us. So if we were to come back here with a magnetometer, with side scanning sonar, we have some really good specific points in areas that we could search.

[00:55:30.02]
And then for several hours as we zip back a break. No searching, no interviews, just time to think and try not to puke, because the return trip for me at least, was rough. I don't usually get sick on boats, but for whatever reason, that day I did. Nausea aside, I stepped out of the cabin onto the deck multiple times, wearing a life vest, gripping rails, watching islands and mountains vanish behind us, bathed by a striking sunset, fiery reds and oranges giving way to cool blues and paints.

[00:56:17.04]
As darkness fell, we pulled into Cordova. Now, there's something I need to tell you, something I haven't told you the day before. While we were on the water out of cell range or so we thought, Andy's phone buzzed once. It was a text with bad news that day. At exactly one twenty five p.m., about 90 minutes after we got to Port Etches, an Army National Guard unit in the mountains near Cordova found the body of Neil Darko.

[00:56:55.04]
The 33 year old hunter who disappeared right before we got to town, Darko fell down a steep chute and died because such as Alaska, a place where so many find meaning and others die young, where sometimes amateurs survive. And experts don't. Where hunters are found and congressmen aren't. Next time on missing in Alaska. This week for your task. Something fun. Google, Alaska Shore Zone Shores Zone is a free interactive mapping system that, among other things, allows you to explore seventy five thousand miles of shoreline in Alaska.

[00:58:13.07]
Click on a spot and you can see photos, videos, etc.. Go zoom around. Visit Hinchinbrook. Who knows? Maybe you'll spot something interesting. You can reach us by phone at one eight three three MEAC tips. That's one eight three three six four two eight four seven seven again one eight three three six four two eight four seven seven. Or you can reach us via email at tips at eye heart media dot com. That's tips t ipsc an I heart media com.

[00:58:51.00]
Ben Bowlin is our executive producer. Paul Decken is our supervising producer. Chris Brown is our assistant producer. Seth Nicholas Johnson is our producer. Sam Teagarden is our research assistant. And I'm your host and executive producer, Jon Walzak. You can find me on Twitter at at John Walzak, Geo and WRAL sie ze AK. Special thanks to our captains Andy and Mark and to Bob Martinsen. A big thank you also to the Prince William Sound Science Center and specifically Scott Peck on their website is P.

[00:59:24.09]
W. S SC dot org. If you can go donate, they're a great non-profit.

[00:59:31.05]
Finally, when this wretched pandemic passes, please visit Cordova.

[00:59:36.03]
You won't regret it. Trust me. For now, though, support the fishermen if you can afford it. Try some Copper River salmon. People say it's the best salmon in the world. Missing in Alaska is a co-production of I Heart Media and Green Fought Media.

The Island
Missing in Alaska