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Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity

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avatar Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 21, 2012 01:47PM
Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
Date: December 20, 2012

Plane Last Accounted For Flying Near North Dome in Park on Monday, December 17, 2012. Yosemite National Park continues the search for a single engine plane that may have gone missing over the park on Monday, December 17, 2012. The plane was last detected via radar in the afternoon on December 17, near the North Dome area in the park.

The plane, flown by pilot Nicol Wilson from the Santa Barbara area, was flying from Santa Barbara to the Mammoth Lakes Airport on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, when it disappeared. There were no passengers onboard. He was reported missing by his family on the evening of December 17, after failing to arrive in Mammoth as planned.

Search efforts for the missing plane were initiated Tuesday morning, December 18, 2012. Poor weather and lack of visibility hindered the air search efforts. Additional efforts to locate the plane via beacon receivers were unsuccessful. Multiple aircraft were able to search during daylight hours yesterday, Wednesday, December 19. Searching remains difficult due to over one foot of fresh snow at the higher elevations in the park. No clues or signs of the aircraft have been discovered.

Air search efforts will continue throughout the day today, Thursday, December 20. Weather is expected to be mostly sunny with nighttime lows around 20 degrees. Visibility is anticipated to be good throughout the day. The park is expecting a winter storm to impact the park on Friday afternoon. The storm will bring heavy snow and strong winds and will likely significantly hinder search efforts.

The search area, roughly 600 square miles, is located in a rugged section of the park that inaccessible by vehicle this time of the year. So far, a California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter has flown 825 miles over the search area. Additionally, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) aircraft has flown 2,214 miles over the search area.

Approximately 60 personnel are assisting in the air search, including Search and Rescue teams from Yosemite National Park, CHP, and CAP.
Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 21, 2012 02:43PM
I hope this doesn't sound insensitive to the potential loss of life in this case and I do sincerely hope the guy is found to be safe but are planes allowed anywhere near this area? I know commercial jetliners fly over the park but that's a very high altitude. At typical cruising altitudes for a craft this size, I thought the Park was off limits (or am I completely misinformed about that)?
avatar Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 21, 2012 02:56PM
Here's the latest article and a quote from it:

"Shawn Knight, President of the Santa Ynez Airport, said Wilson's plane left radar 33-miles away from his course, and it looked like Wilson may have tried to navigate around bad weather. Knight also said the Sierra Mountains and the Tioga Pass are treacherous terrain."
avatar Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 21, 2012 03:15PM
Quote
DavidK42

I know commercial jetliners fly over the park but that's a very high altitude. At typical cruising altitudes for a craft this size, I thought the Park was off limits (or am I completely misinformed about that)?


All aircraft are allowed to fly over Yosemite National Park as long as they stay 2000' above ground level (AGL). According to Yosemite's official aviation management plan, any aircraft (outside the exceptions listed below) that is clearly flying under the 2000' limit should be immediately reported to Yosemite's ECC (Yosemite's dispatch) by phone (or radio):


1. Airspace

Since the National Park Service has no direct authority or jurisdiction over airspace above 2000 feet AGL (above ground level), it will actively seek the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration and appropriate agencies of the Department of Defense to resolve overflight concerns and to prevent, eliminate, or minimize the degradation of park resources and values associated with overflight activity. The 1984 Interagency Agreement among the National Park Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service establishes agency responsibilities and procedures to be followed to address site specific aircraft overflight concerns.

The exceptions to the National Parks Overflight Act of 1987 (PL-100-91) include the following:
  1. Emergency situations involving the protec
    tion of persons or property, including aircraft;
  2. searchs and rescue operations;
  3. flights for purposes of firefighting or for required administrative purposes; and
  4. compliance with instructions of an air traffic controller.
When possible, NPS use of aircraft will be planned and scheduled to consolidate flights. NPS aircraft operations are subject to the regulations and policies of the Department of the Interior, Aviation Management Directorate and the Federal Aviation Administration and NPS Aviation Management (Director’s Order #60).

2. Unauthorized Low Level Flights

All low-level over-flights that are clearly below 2000 feet above ground level (AGL), regardless of aircraft type, should be reported to Yosemite ECC by phone or radio as soon as possible. Administrative helicopter flights such as 551 or medical evacuations are not included. To limit false reporting of covert law enforcement missions, flight managers will contact Yosemite ECC to inform them of the type and time the aircraft will be flown over the park prior to commencing flight operations. A reporting form “Yosemite National Park Aviation Occurrence Report” can be found in Appendix E”


http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/upload/YNP_Park_Aviation_Management_Plan_FINAL.pdf


Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 21, 2012 10:25PM
So you could fly over the valley, level with El Capitan? You are more than 2000 feet above the valley floor. smiling bouncing smiley
Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 21, 2012 10:50PM
Quote
hotrod4x5
So you could fly over the valley, level with El Capitan? You are more than 2000 feet above the valley floor. smiling bouncing smiley

It's been tried. Doesn't work. See:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,57381
Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 22, 2012 12:58AM
It's 2000 feet above the highest point in your flight path. Basically a minimum of at least 12,000 feet.
avatar Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 22, 2012 10:52AM
Flying literally 2,000' above the valley floor boxes one into one direction eliminating any ability to turn around if necessary. One could find oneself forced to seek altitude flying up Tenaya Canyon (for example) at the peril of running into downdrafts, the limiting performance on an aircraft's horsepower, and/or the limiting performance on an aircraft called "pressure altitude" during warm weather. One might be able to barely climb out of a canyon by turning diagonally to it but would immediately violate minimum altitude requirements clearing whatever ridge or mountain was in the way. For those interested "pressure altitude" is a critical performance criteria to be considered in all mountian flying, particularly during warm, humid weather. Under these conditions, the air is much less dense and simulates a much higher altitude than what the altimeter reads. In less dense air the performance of both the engine and the wings can be severely affected. That, combined with almost certain downdrafts on the lee side of mountains, can make for very dangerous flying.

My comments only apply to the discussion's reference to Yosemite altitude minimums, not the recent missing plane.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/22/2012 11:16AM by tomdisco.
avatar Re: Single Engine Plane Missing in Yosemite National Park Vicinity
December 23, 2012 04:12AM
I've read where it was speculated that this was the cause of adventurer, businessman, Steve Fossett's demise near the Mammoth Lakes region in September of 2007.



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