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Missing Plane / Pilot FoundMissing Forest Service Spotter Plane and pilot found after 11 days (www.arkansasmatters.com) More...
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This has been kinda personal. I knew Jake from his time at the 188th in FSM and have rode spotter with the ANG as wx has permitted this week, having a nephew that is an ANG Blackhawk pilot at Camp Robinson. Unless you have ever been there, you cannot fathom what that terrain looked like from the air, especially after all the ice and snow; even flying a tight grid, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but that is how quick things can change. A week ago that was all green and dry, which is why they fly the spotter runs in the 1st place. Along comes ice storm and snowfall and walla! Instant white wilderness.
Terribly sorry for the loss Wayne. You and his family are in my prayers.
I'm very sorry for your loss. The difficulty in searching is exactly why our group of over 1,000 members were searching satellite images and encouraging the AFC to get cameras in the air so our "armchair" searchers could spend time on each and every frame. We were successful in locating the Smith airplane in Idaho even though the impact site was flown over at least 50 times. AFC finally agreed and cameras were ready to launch the next day after Jake was located by the CAP on their third search of the area.
All help was appreciated, but you will notice that a big part of the Sat. images were cloudy and that was due to the wx. There were 4-5 days out of that time that there was no air search at all. The cameras were pretty well held off on account of that. Ya'll saw the pics and the day that it was found was the 1st clear day all week. I flew spotter with one of the ANG choppers for 2-3 days and it was pathetic. As I said above, it was green and dry the day he went down, and then in came the wx and all of a sudden, white wilderness. White plane under white canopy was like a needle in a haystack. He was probably overflown several times. Even the CAP plane that made the initial spot was not sure. ASP chopper gave a tentative verification on the find, and an ANG chopper came in and put somebody on the ground to verify. It took most of the day yesterday to get any kind of a road/trail pushed out to get in the 3 miles to it. I too was looking at the Sat images here and ALL help was appreciated. There were volunteers out the wazoo wanting to go in on the ground but it was just too much of a safety risk as well as accountability. He could not have picked a worse are to go down in. The main question is why the ELT didn't work as planned and the rest of it is up to the FAA and NTSB. Again, thanks to all that were involved.
Tomnod was reluctant to launch with the cloudy pictures but I made the push because I figured something was better than no chance at all. They did get subsequent images but they were even worse. The ELT activation rate on the older ELTs is abysmal and sadly the 406 ones are only about 60% effective. The tomnod pics over the crash site are so dense that not even a hint of ground shows through. I sincerely hope the AFC changes their policy of launching in MVFR.
Actually it wasn't MVFR, it was pretty clear. It has to be pretty clear for them to spot. That said, they will launch MVFR if ceiling is high enough which can probably make for some anxious moments over that type terrain.