FAIRBANKS — A search for two overdue hunters from Fairbanks and North Pole ended Sunday after their plane was found crashed with their bodies inside, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Timothy Sonnenberg, 45, of Fairbanks, and Jason Roberts, 43, of North Pole, are believed to have died in the small aircraft that went down near the Japan Hills south of Fairbanks in the area of Wood River and Chutes Creek, according to trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.
They were reported overdue on Friday from a hunting trip to the Nenana River, a trooper report stated. The men reportedly left to hunt sheep Sept. 15; their last known coordinates were near the west fork of the Delta River.
A search involving the Civil Air Patrol and other volunteers commenced. A pilot on Saturday reported seeing an aircraft south of Gold Creek that appeared to have burned.
A military helicopter was sent to the site and confirmed Sunday that it was Sonnenberg’s plane. Authorities launched a body recovery effort, according to troopers.
Family members of both men have been notified, troopers stated.
An online Federal Aviation Administration database shows Sonnenberg flew a Piper PA-12, a fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft built in 1946. He was a licensed pilot though not instrument rated, according to another FAA database.
Sonnenberg owned TS Construction in Fairbanks. Roberts coached wrestling at North Pole High School, according to his Facebook page.
A GoFundMe campaign that was started Saturday to raise money for fuel for the search effort drew more than $25,000 in less than 24 hours.
Attempts on Sunday to get information from the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates every civil aviation accident in the United States, were unsuccessful.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMborough.