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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.