Ground search for missing plane suspended |

Ground search for missing plane suspended

BASALT ” A ground search for a missing airplane has been suspended in the upper Fryngpan Valley drainage, but the Civil Air Patrol continues to look for the Cessna 182, according to authorities.

“At about 11 o’clock we suspended the ground team operations,” said Scott Thompson, Basalt fire chief and member of the West Eagle County Search and Rescue. Search groups from West Eagle County, Vail and Pitkin County were prepared to look for the airplane.

Thompson said a Civil Air Patrol aircraft continues the search and a National Guard helicopter will continue looking as long as weather permits. There wasn’t enough information about the missing plane to mount a ground search.

“The last point known was a radar sight, we never received any ELT signals,” Thompson said referring to the emergency locator transmitter that aircraft carry to disclose their whereabouts in case of a crash. “All that means is he flew in a canyon and off of the radar, so he could be anywhere.”

Eagle County authorities said the Cessna left Rocky Mountain Metro Airport in Jefferson County at about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday. The pilot was the sole occupant. The last radar contact with the plane was at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the area of Josephine Lake and Carter Lake, in the Holy Cross Wilderness about 8 miles east-northeast of Thomasville and roughly 40 miles east of Basalt. The high, rugged terrain is covered with about 18 inches of snow from recent storms.

No crash site has been spotted and it hasn’t been confirmed that the Cessna went down in the Fryingpan Valley.

“At this time it is unknown if the pilot is still alive,” the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said in the statement. “The pilot’s name will not be released at this time.”

This story will be updated as details evolve.

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