Search underway off Baffin Island in Davis Strait for missing helicopter

FILE - The crew of a Cormorant helicopter dispatched by JRCC helped locate three missing people in Lunenburg County on Saturday. Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press

IQALUIT, Nunavut – Search and rescue officials are still hopeful a helicopter missing near Baffin Island may be found, says a spokesman for Joint Task Force Atlantic.

“There is a lot of ice pans up North, so he may have been able to land there but didn’t have the power to communicate back to us,” said Derek Prescott, a search and rescue navigator on board the Hercules aircraft involved in the search.

“So there is still a chance that we may find him.”

The small Robinson R22 two seater helicopter went missing Saturday afternoon over the Davis Strait while flying from Iqaluit to Nuuk, Greenland.

The pilot, who Prescott said is a Russian citizen, was flying solo.

“He had a GPS that was providing updates, and that’s how we knew that it seems there was an issue,” Prescott said. “There were no updates coming in.”

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In addition to the Hercules aircraft, Prescott said Transport Canada, the Coast Guard, nearby fishing vessels and civilian agency CASARA are aiding in the search.

A second Herc and a Cormorant helicopter are also on their way from Nova Scotia’s 14 Wing Greenwood airbase.

Heavy fog and low cloud cover have so far hampered visibility for those searching.

Prescott said the missing pilot may be the same man who is trying to become the first person to fly around the Arctic Circle in a small helicopter.

“We don’t want to speculate, but we do believe it is the same person,” Prescott said.

The record-setting hopeful arrived in Iqaluit in a Robinson R22 the day before the search began.

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