Seth Fairbanks, 29, appeared on the season finale of Yukon Men and was someone the residents of Tanana seemingly liked and felt they could rely on. Seth’s services as a pilot were put to the test as he flew Charlie Wright over the Tanana River to check on the ice conditions. Later, he picked up Joey Zuray, who was stranded in a remote area due to river ice breaking up. The end of the episode featured a photo of the young pilot along with the words, “In Memory of Seth Fairbanks, 1985-2015.” Shocked and surprised, viewers took to various forms of social media as they searched to find out what happened to Fairbanks.
What happened to Seth Fairbanks? Unfortunately, over a week later that question still remains unanswered. So far, only a few facts are confirmed. After the August 7 crash, it was believed that Fairbanks and his passenger, 23-year-old Anthony Hooper, were still alive. A call via satellite phone was received by an Alaska trooper dispatch center in Fairbanks. Seth told them he was currently standing on top of his plane and that they needed immediate rescue. According to the Alaska Native News, Seth’s call dropped off after 69 seconds had elapsed.
A search immediately commenced for Seth Fairbanks and his passenger. The single-engine Piper PA-18 Super Cub was flipped over in the Knik Arm mud flats only a few miles from the Birchwood Airport in Chugiak. There was no sign anywhere of Fairbanks or Hooper. Alaska Air National Guard spokesperson Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead described to Alaska Dispatch News the difficult conditions of the crash site as, “swift-moving, murkey waters, changing tide levels and location of the aircraft.” When the tide came in, the entire plane disappeared.
Seth’s father, Grant Fairbanks, stated that his son was headed to Anchorage to attend a wedding reception for his sister, and that the family didn’t know Hooper. Alaska Public shared a statement from Fairbanks, in which he said, “Knowing the color of the plane, the direction, the time, we knew it was him.” Family and friends of Seth took to the skies in an effort to locate the pair, but to no avail. Over the next few days, the area was scoured by aircraft, all-terrain vehicles and by people searching on foot. Fairbanks stated that Seth had been flying for about three years and recently attended a special flight training school in California.
This entire scenario left fans of the show asking for more information about what happened to Seth Fairbanks and his passenger. There wasn’t anything new forthcoming until one of the Yukon Men cast members, Stan Zuray, took to his Facebook page on Friday, November 13 with quite an informative statement concerning Seth Fairbanks. His son, Joey, was stranded in a remote hunting area. Fairbanks flew in to pick up Joey and his dog, despite the precarious landing conditions he faced.
“People have been asking about Seth the pilot in the last episode of the Yukon Men season last Tuesday. He was a good friend of Charlie and became a good friend of the cast and crew of the show and many in Tanana. The plan was for him to continue being in the show and we were all looking forward to it as he was such a great guy and very capable young man. This fall, 500 miles to the south near the city of Anchorage, he and another person died by in a plane crash (they survived the crash, but rescuers were unable to reach them before the tide came in). May he rest in peace and his family take some comfort in knowing what a nice person he was to us here.”
According to Delta Discovery, a memorial service was held in Anchorage for Seth Fairbanks at the Alaska Aviation Museum on August 11. Seth Fairbanks has young twin daughters and donations are still being accepted to help with their support. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch by writing a check to the “Ana and Cayla Donation Account.”
Are you a fan of the show? Did you watch the season finale? What do you think about this new information? Leave your comments, thoughts and condolences for the Fairbanks family below.
[Photo via Discovery Channel/Facebook, cropped and resized]