Details of Disappearance
Longerbeam was last seen in Port Alsworth, Alaska on December 7, 2016. He was piloting a single-engine Piper PA-28 Cherokee plane, with three members of the Blom family as passengers: the father, Scott
, and two of his children, Kaitlyn
. They were on their way to Anchorage, Alaska, where the children's school, Tanalian School, was competing in the Mixed Six Volleyball State Championship.
The flight should have taken ninety minutes. The plane took off from Port Alsworth that morning, and never arrived in Anchorage as expected. Authorities believe it went down in Lake Clark, but no bodies have been recovered. The next day, the plane's co-pilot seat, three of its wheels, and some of the occupants' personal belongings were found floating in the lake. Nothing else has been recovered.
Longerbeam, who is originally from Iowa and moved to Alaska two years after he graduated Fairfield High School, got his private pilot certificate for single-engine planes in 2015. He didn't yet have enough training for instrument rating and had to fly under visual flight years, meaning that in uncontrolled airspace, he needed at least one mile of visibility.
When he took off from Port Alsworth that day, the weather was good enough to operate under visual flight rules, but there was reduced visibility along the anticipated route, including low-lying freezing fog over Lake Clark. Poor visibility may have played a role in the cause of the crash, but the National Transportation Safety Board's report ruled the cause of the crash "undetermined due to a lack of physical evidence."
The Bloms and Longerbeam are presumed deceased, but will remain classified as missing under their bodies are located. Due to the depth of the lake, a successful recovery mission is considered unlikely.