Albany woman's parents missing in Alaska - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany woman's parents missing in Alaska

James Hawthorne James Hawthorne
Pam Hawthorne Pam Hawthorne

July 3, 2003

Albany-- An Albany woman's parents are missing, after their plane disappears in Alaska. Kelley Hawthorne says she is not giving up hope.

Eight days ago, her parents chartered a small plane to sight see in South Central Alaska. The plane never returned. A search of the remote area of Alaska turned up nothing.

James and Pam Hawthorne are teachers in Palm Beach County, Florida. Pam is a fifth grade teacher. James just retired after 30 years in the classroom. Friends say the Hawthorne's shared a love of adventure, and that's why they took a cruise to Alaska. July 25th they took a sightseeing flight in a small Cessna piloted by Bert Novak, a retired Northwest Airlines Pilot.

They were to fly from Hallo Bay to Homer, about 120 miles, mostly over water. When the plane did not arrive, the Alaska Air National Guard started daily searches. Even military AWACS planes were involved in the search.

Lt. Mike Griffin of the Civil Air Patrol said "Weather situations, low ceilings, there was a lot of scud out there. We had to pay attention to where we were at."

Major Chris Kobi said "we are all realistic at this point without finding any signs of the aircraft. No distress signals, no radio calls, no wreckage, I think realistically the family knows the chances of finding anyone alive are diminishing as days go on."

The Hawthorne's daughter Kelley lives in Albany, and has been receiving daily updates on the search for her parents. She did not want to talk with us on camera, but said she is not giving up hope. Neither are family friends in Florida. Joss Loiselle said "If anything they would be able to survive. But there are limits."

The search area is in a remote area consisting of more than 6,500 square miles of uninhabited islands and glaciers. Rescuers put in more than three hundred hours of flight time in the last week. Thursday morning the National Guard suspended their search after a week, but said they will reopen it if something new develops.

In Albany, Kelley Hawthorne asks your prayers for her missing parents. Kelley Hawthorne works for a hospital in Albany.

posted at 3:54PM by jimw@walb.com