TNSAR Search 02/06/2005

Lost Aircraft Royal Gorge/Sugarbowl area

Sunday Feb 6, 2005

TNSAR dispatched to airplane crashed somewhere around Donner Summit. Radar data shows it to be southwest of Devil’s Peak in Royal Gorge Ski Area. Plane is a Cirrus SR22, which incorporates a parachute into its design. In case of trouble, the parachute can be deployed (if speed is less than 130 knots) and the plane slowly descends to the ground. Unknown whether this occurred. Pilot radioed in that he was experiencing difficulties and then went off radar. Decision is made to make Royal Gorge main lodge the command post.

John Slouber, owner of Royal Gorge, opens main lodge. Arrangements for getting skiers and ELT receiver to Devil’s Peak with Royal Gorge groomers and TNSAR snowcat made.

Faint signal from ELT receiver at 216 degrees, which is towards Devil’s Peak

Fred Carey, snowcat arrives. Truckee California Air Patrol members arrive.

Steve Twomey and Jesse Todd (CAP) drive to Ice Lakes Lodge with ELT receiver, believe they get faint signal at 312 degrees, which is completely different direction.

Waiting for permission from Auburn to proceed with search, Fred works phones vigorously

Snowcat, transporting skiers, and snowmobiles, lead by Royal Gorge groomer start out for reconnaissance to Devil’s Peak area

Steve Twomey goes by grooming machine to Snow Mountain warming hut with ELT receiver, no signal received.

Snowcats at Devils Peak warming hut

No ELT signal from Horseshoe Loop, which is at north end of base of Devils Peak summit pyramid. Skiers report a glow to the east, which turns out to be a snowcat on Royal Gorge trails.

A faint ELT signal picked up at 115 degrees from Devil’s Peak and it is believed to include the word “charlie”,

Satellite overfly picks up no ELT signal

Steve Twomey reports no ELT signal from Point Mariah

Monday, February 7, 2005

Permission from Fred Carey to send all skiers from Devils Peak to Huntley Mills Lake, snowmobiles start back to Royal Gorge lodge to pick up 3 more skiers who have been in reserve at the lodge.
Steve Twomey takes ELT receiver to start driving I80 and Ice Lakes area.

Updated “last radar data” from Langley Air Force Rescue Coordination Center indicates that the aircraft may be 0.5 miles south of Mount Lincoln at Sugarbowl, which is about 4 miles away. Further info from someone in Oakland puts it at approximately Rohlert Pass at Sugarbowl.
It is decided to bring in all teams at Royal Gorge, and to move the search to Sugarbowl.

Placer County Dispatch receives a report of a parachute and debris in the Mt Judah parking lot at Sugarbowl. Fred and Sage head over to check out. Turns out it was found up the mountain and brought down by a groomer and was probably from the airplane we are looking for.

Search continues, based at Sugarbowl Ski Area's Mt Judah Lodge

Snowmobile and skiers go to the site of debris recovery by Sugarbowl snowcat, near halfpipe on Chase Ridge, below Lincoln chair. They are then transported to the top of the mountain by snowcat.

Skiers start to search in bounds, to skiers right of Lincoln Chair, snowmobiles search near where other debris has been found. Over the next hour, as skiers move up and down the mountain, more debris is found, all of it small pieces of the aircraft.

Bill Healy returns from talking to Guy Loughridge from Tactical Mapping Systems, who is on contract with the Langley Airforce Rescue Coordination Center, and brings computer printouts showing precise radar path of plane with altitudes and velocities, including satellite picture simulation of point of crash, all of which points to final resting point being out of bounds, south of Mt Lincoln about 0.5 mile. All of the search has been concentrating around the debris we’ve found, but now the theory is that the parachute was deployed at high rate of speed, was ripped off the aircraft and landing in the area we are searching, but that aircraft continued and will be found outside the ski area.
All searchers returned to CP to wait for first light (due to horrendous wind, visibility and snow conditions) to head out of bounds, south of Mt Lincoln.

Snowcat transports skiers to the top of Lincoln. They will go out of bounds south of Mt Lincoln to estimated crash site and search for plane.
Snowmobilers search in bounds for further debris and document what has been found.
8 Sugarbowl patrollers search in bounds for debris.

The skiers reach estimated crash site, find no evidence of crash and continue combing the area in all directions.

Second team of skiers descends off top of Lincoln to help with search.

A Sugarbowl patroller finds small debris on the “Patrol Route” (P.R.) which is the backside traverse from Lincoln to Disney.

An off duty Sugarbowl patroller finds a wing in the “Spires”, which is a rock cliff area below the saddle between Mt Lincoln and Mt Disney.

TNSAR skiers move toward patroller

The off duty patroller finds landing gear and parts of fuselage

TNSAR skiers make contact with the off duty patroller and find a gully strewn with debris and shortly after find the main impact site, a 12’ x 6’ crater.

Debrief by Deputy Hunt

Sheriff Dispatch Comm Van Truck Skiers Snow Cats Snowmobiles Other
Fred Carey
Dave Hunt
Jeff Granthum
Rick Armstrong
Terri Viehmann
Marilyn Stack
Kathy King
Jackie Thomas
Bill Healy
Kathy Chilcote
John Chilcote
Dirk Schoonmaker
Randy Sharp
Paul Honeywell
Brian York
Mike Kennett
Russ Viehmann
Bob Wright
Steve Twomey
Bernie Mellor
Mark Johnson
Jim Granger
Doug Read
Randall Osterhuber
Gerald Rockwell
Glen Paulsen
Paul Cushing
Ron Driller
Jonathan Laine
Scoop Reminih
Tony Bochene

Scott Baumgartner
Steve Hoyt
Bill Koplin
Civil Air Patrol
Michael Golden
Robert Todd
Jesse Todd