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Search for Missing Plane Suspended in Yosemite National Park

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Date: December 27, 2012

The search for the missing plane over Yosemite National Park and adjacent areas has been suspended. The single engine plane was last detected via radar in the afternoon on Monday, December 17, over the North Dome area in the park. Search efforts throughout the week have failed to yield clues or evidence regarding the plane's location.

Over five feet of new snow has accumulated at the higher elevations of the park, including the search area. Additionally, strong winds have created extremely hazardous search conditions.

The park initiated an aerial search on Tuesday, December 18, to help locate the missing plane. Search efforts continued throughout the week. Approximately 60 personnel assisted in the air search, including Search and Rescue teams from Yosemite National Park, California Highway Patrol (CHP), and Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Search teams flew approximately 8,000 linear miles over the search area.

The plane was being flown by pilot Nicol Wilson, who is from the Santa Barbara area. There were no passengers onboard. He was reported missing by his family on the evening of December 17, after failing to arrive in Mammoth Lakes as planned.

Snow accumulation from this storm, in addition to the existing snow on the ground, has halted search operations for the remainder of the winter season. The park will resume search efforts in the spring of 2013, when weather and snow conditions permit.

Did You Know?

Low intensity fire in Yosemite

Natural fires in Yosemite are often no more than a single burning snag (standing dead tree) or a slow moving, low intensity fire that cleans underbrush from the forest floor. These fires prevent unwanted fires by removing accumulating forest debris that can fuel a larger fire in hot, dry conditions.