On March 30, 2013, late in the evening, Alaska State Troopers Helo I went down after successfully rescuing a stranded snow-machiner in the Talkeetna Mountains near Talkeetna, Alaska. Tragically, all aboard were lost: Helo I pilot, Mel Nading, Trooper Tage Toll, and the snow-machiner.
The loss to Mel’s family, the Alaska State Troopers and the search and rescue community will be deep and lasting. Many of us have countless stories flying with Mel and will recall his steadfast nerve and confidence commanding Helo I, his unwavering commitment to helping those lost and missing, and his warm heart and resolute promise to deliver us home safely after each mission.
Mel flew over 3400 hours as the Alaska State Troopers primary pilot for Helo I since taking the reins in December 2000. He was responsible for over 750 rescues and medivacs of lost and missing persons across the state of Alaska and received many awards including the Governor’s Denali Peak Performance and a Commendation for Meritorious Services in 2008.
The hearts of those in the search and rescue community will always be with the Nading family and we are all honored to have known Mel and grateful to have served with him.