National Park Service Searching for Missing Plane in Grand Canyon National Park
Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – On Sunday, March 13, Grand Canyon Airport south of Grand Canyon National Park received a report from a general aviation pilot of an activated emergency locator transmitter (also known as an ELT).
The airport immediately notified the National Park Service (NPS) because the ELT had been detected approximately 30 miles northwest of Grand Canyon Village in the vicinity of the Fossil Corridor within Grand Canyon National Park. The park's helicopter flew the area in the vicinity of the reported ELT activation, but did not find any signs of a downed plane nor did they detect the beacon. Because no corresponding report of a missing plane could be found, the search was called off at that point.
On Monday, March 14, the Coconino County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) contacted the NPS about a missing person – 47-year old Joseph Radford of Glendale, Arizona. In the course of their investigations, the sheriff's office had determined that Mr. Radford owned a red, RV-6 homebuilt, experimental aircraft which was also missing. In addition, they had determined that Mr. Radford's plane was seen at Grand Canyon Airport shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Friday,
Based on radar tracking information from Friday, the NPS helicopter concentrated search efforts in the Scorpion Ridge area, located in the vicinity of the Dragon Corridor, on Monday; and on Tuesday, the park's helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft both flew search patterns in the Fossil Corridor and Scorpion Ridge areas with no success. Meanwhile, the CCSO continued their investigations and began contacting backpackers known to have been to these areas to see if anyone had seen or heard the plane on Friday.
Today, investigations and aerial searches continue. The focus of today's search efforts has been Bedrock and Galloway Canyons in the Fossil Corridor area.
Joseph Radford is described as a 47-year old white male, with blue eyes, graying hair and a receding hairline. He is 5'11" tall and weighs approximately 190 pounds. His plane is described as an RV6 Kit Built, cherry red airplane with tail number N650RV.
If you believe that you have seen Mr. Radford or his aircraft since Friday, March 11, at 8:30 a.m., please contact the National Park Service at
928-638-7805. (Media should continue to contact the Grand Canyon Public Affairs office at 928-638-7958 or 928-638-7779.)
The latest estimate of the total search area is 600 square miles with the National Park Service leading joint search operations with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office.
Did You Know?
Each year, thousands of hikers enter the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. They follow a route established by prehistoric people for two key reasons: water and access. Water emerges from springs at Indian Garden, and a fault creates a break in the cliffs, providing access to the springs.