Trooper Mel Nading was killed on March 30, 2013, in the crash of the Alaska Department of Public Safety’s Helo-1, while returning from the successful rescue of a stranded snowmobiler near Talkeetna.
Melvin “Mel” Nading, 55, was hired in December 2000 to be the primary pilot for Helo-1 in support of various missions. During Nading’s 13 years with the Department, he was the primary search and rescue pilot for the department, and interacted with other agencies to coordinate search and rescue efforts.
As the sole day-and-night (instrument flight rules IFR) capable helicopter, Helo-1 is the most effective asset for SAR. This aircraft has more than fulfilled the department’s mission requirements in Southcentral Alaska with saves and critical missions being performed on a near weekly basis. In addition, Nading provided helicopter support to Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers for law enforcement missions to include the Special Emergency Reaction Team when needed.
For various periods of times throughout his career, Nading was the only pilot certified to fly Helo-1. Shortly after he was hired, Nading was instrumental in acquiring and equipping the AS-350B3 (A-Star) helicopter that in 2002 replaced the aging Bell aircraft as Helo-1. Nading also ensured the helicopter received appropriate maintenance and keeps detailed records of flight hours, expenses, certification and equipment needs. Additionally, Nading was an instructor pilot for both the department’s A-Star and R-44 helicopters and routinely certified department pilots on both aircraft.
In 2012 alone, Nading flew over 200 hours on SAR flights, patrols, test and training flights, investigations for police and state agencies. He logged 983 contacts, 73 rescues, 13 medical evacuations, recovered eight bodies and assisted with two arrests.
Because of his experience, Nading was well-known and well-respected among the search and rescue community and was known for his attention to safety. He also received six letters of thanks from people and their families for rescues that year. In 2008, he and Sgt. Bryan Barlow were recipients of the Governors Denali Award Peak Performance from the governor and received a Commendation for Meritorious Service for saving the life of a kayaker caught in a bore tide on July 29, 2007. Due to Nading’s phenomenal flying skills, he was able to hold the helicopter steady and close to the waters as Barlow leaned out and pulled the kayaker from Turnagain Arm, saving the man’s life. This is just one of the countless rescues Nading can be credited with.
Nading is originally from Manchester, Iowa. Nading is survived by his wife, three grown daughters and five granddaughters.
Alaska Peace Officer Honor Roll
Division of Alaska State Troopers
Helicopter Crash Kills 3