3 rescued from Alaska volcano after ice covered helicopter blades

John Paskievitch aboard the stranded iced-over helicopter. Taryn Lopez

Two researchers and their pilot were rescued Friday from an Alaska volcano after their helicopter's blades were covered in ice by freezing rain, stranding the trio.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters told The Associated Press the three were rescued at about 5 p.m. Friday. The freezing rainstorm started Wednesday evening, and the bad weather prevented an earlier rescue.

How the helicopter looked early on the second day. John Paskievitch

Pilot Sam Egli, United States Geological Survey geophysicist John Paskievitch and University of Alaska-Fairbanks researcher Taryn Lopez were unscathed.

Asked how they passed the time for more than two days, Egli said they remained in the helicopter and "just yakked."

"There wasn't anything to do," he told the AP. "We work together, we've got things in common, so we just talked about that."

The researchers were working on recovering short-term volcano-monitoring equipment, the AP reported. 

When freezing rain iced over the helicopter's blades, the three became stranded.

"We were unable to produce enough lift to take off at that point," Egli said, according to the AP. "The weather didn't clear up after that."

A rescue helicopter airlifted the trio to safety Friday, but the iced-over chopper was left behind on Mount Mageik, the AP said.