N.M. Aircrew Points Ground Teams to Utah Plane Crash Site
An aircrew from Civil Air Patrol's New Mexico Wing led Colorado and Utah searchers to the crash site of a Piper Lance in southeast Utah late Friday afternoon after triangulating the downed plane's emergency locator transmitter signal. None of the four people aboard the aircraft survived, authorities said.
The plane had left Grand Junction Regional Airport in Colorado about 10 a.m. Thursday, bound for Albuquerque, New Mexico, only to drop off radar about 30 minutes later.
A Civil Air Patrol Cessna T206 flying out of Albuquerque provided information on the ELT signal that guided ground teams from the Colorado Wing and the San Juan County, Utah, Sheriff's Office to 50 feet from where the plane crashed, said Lt. Col. Jon Hitchcock, the mission incident commander for the New Mexico Wing. The ground teams found the wreckage about 4:50 p.m. local time, Hitchcock said.
The plane crashed in Utah about 4 nautical miles from the Colorado state line, roughly halfway between Monticello, Utah, and Dove Creek, Colorado, and on the west side of much higher terrain, he said.
CAP was tasked with helping locate the plane by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. CAP's National Radar Analysis Team located the suspected radar track, which corresponded with the ELT reports, said Lt. Col. John Henderson, NRAT’s vice commander, adding, “The combined reports helped narrow the search area.”
The New Mexico Wing aircrew was initially forced to turn back because of snow, but it eventually spent 6.8 hours in the air, Hitchcock said