A Civil Air Patrol aircrew from California Wing is briefed Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in Sacramento, during a search for a missing aircraft near the Sierra Nevada mountain range with two persons on board. The Civil Air Patrol was activated for the search early Tuesday morning by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.
An aerial photo taken by a Civil Air Patrol aircrew Wednesday afternoon, April 19, 2017, shows snow, tree covering, and rugged terrain in an area of the Sierra Nevada mountain range being searched for a missing aircraft with two people on board. The Civil Air Patrol was activated for the search early Tuesday morning by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Air and ground teams from multiple agencies are participating in the search.
Weather hampered Thursday’s search efforts for a Santa Rosa couple not heard from since taking off in their single-engine plane Monday afternoon from the Truckee-Tahoe Airport en route to Petaluma.
One surveillance flight was able to take off Thursday morning in the search for Mark and Brenda Richard’s Socata TB-20, which officials estimate disappeared five minutes after leaving the 5,900-foot elevation airport about 4 p.m. Monday.
In a statement released Thursday morning, the Richards’ family, which includes daughters Lauren, Madeline, Ashley and Danielle, remained hopeful.
“We have confidence in the search and rescue team and are grateful for the support and efforts of everyone involved,” the statement said.
“We are staying positive and would appreciate privacy at this time.”
When the Richards took off Monday in Truckee, the National Weather Service said it was 45 degrees, with a 6-mph southerly wind and 10-miles visibility.
But about 18 miles northwest of the airport where the Richards’ plane disappeared, the weather can be “drastically different,” said Hardy Bullock, director of aviation and community services for the airport. Because of the high altitude and rugged terrain, flying in and out of the mountain airport can be tricky..
It implemented a “Fly Aware” campaign posting signs at the airport and on its website to educate pilots about the unique circumstances.
“We have a pilot and passenger coordinator who walks around the airport, trying to catch passengers before they depart,” Bullock said, “to talk to them about the challenges that they’re going to face flying into and out of Truckee.”
Altitude, air density, changing weather and wind shear — the abrupt changes in wind speed and direction that can occur over the Sierra Nevada peaks — are among the hazards pilots face flying in and out of the mountain airport, Bullock said.
He said no airport staffers made contact Monday with the Richards and security footage shows they didn’t visit the terminal.
Robert Bousquet, board member of the Tahoe Flying Club based at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport, said a pilot flying a single-engine plane should consider the temperature drops 3 degrees for every thousand feet climbed.
“If you don’t have a plane that can climb through the weather with de-icing equipment, and get above it, then you don’t have a lot of other options other than to fly through it,” Bosquet said.
“So, if you’re at the freezing level, and it was pretty close on Monday ... and it was misting and kind of wet and rainy, those aren’t great plane conditions.”
With no de-icing equipment, a single-engine plane would have two options: Fly above the weather, or drop down to a low enough altitude for the ice to melt.
“The problem with flying a single-engine piston aircraft in the mountains is that you cannot descend to get rid of ice because you have the terrain beneath, and you can’t climb because ice disrupts the airflow over the wings, and produces less lift,” Bousquet said.
Because of the terrain and “desolate wilderness” surrounding the Truckee-Tahoe Airport, Bousquet creates his own flight plans that give him as many landing options as possible in an emergency. In eastern Sierra County, there aren’t many landing options, he said.
When flying to Petaluma, he said, there are two typical routes pilots take.
The most direct path is to Blue Canyon-Nyack Airport, just west of Truckee, and then Interstate 80 southwest before heading west to the Petaluma Airport.
Bousquet said the flight takes about an hour.
Neighbors of the Richards’ said Brenda Richards, the pilot, had been flying for several years.
“She was out flying quite a bit,” Don Jereb said.
Neighbor Tom Torgeson said a pilot friend relayed that Brenda Richards is known as a good pilot who “knows mountain flying.”
So far, search efforts have included the Civil Air Patrol and multiple other agencies, including more than 60 volunteers, nine aircraft and seven vehicles.
Nine sorties had been flown by midday Thursday, with more than 3,100 aerial photographs taken of the heavily wooded snow-covered area, where the snowpack can reach about 10 feet.
“This is truly a team effort and everyone is dedicated to the same goal of finding the aircraft,” said Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Crystal Housman.
Original article can be found here: http://www.petaluma360.com
Five search planes were criss-crossing a nearly 400 square mile area about 18 miles northwest of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport for any signs of Mark and Brenda Richard’s white and blue Socata TB-20 Trinidad. The couple departed the airport Monday afternoon, bound for Petaluma.
“We’re flying grid patterns,” said Maj. Kathy Johnson, spokeswoman for the Civil Air Patrol. “It’s all divided up. Every plane has its own area. You search it methodically.”
Johnson said the search area has grown slightly from earlier in the week and is now 28 miles by 14 miles wide. The couple was tracked there by radar and cellphone information.
Searchers had clear weather Saturday morning but clouds were expected to close in by the afternoon. Snow on the ground coupled with the plane’s color have hampered search efforts so far, she said.
“When you’ve got a white plane it just blends in,” Johnson said.
Other aircraft from the CHP and state Air National Guard joined in the search Friday while numerous other agencies led by Sierra and Nevada county law enforcement conducted ground searches.
Original article can be found here: http://www.pressdemocrat.com
Members of Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing are helping the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office search for a missing Socata aircraft with two people on board.
Officials say the Socata TB-20 Trinidad left the Truckee-Tahoe Airport in Truckee, California, just before 4 pm on Monday and family members reported the aircraft was overdue Monday night it failed to arrive at Petaluma Municipal Airport.
The Socata is described as a four-seat low wing aircraft that is blue and white with gold trim. It is equipped with a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT), but officials say no satellite hits have come in from the beacon.
Civil Air Patrol was activated for the search shortly after midnight on Tuesday by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.
AFRCC say radar analysis and cell phone forensics were conducted overnight and they are narrowing the search to a rugged area of the Sierra Nevada mountain range northwest of Truckee.
Bad weather in the area prevented CAP aircrews from launching overnight and Tuesday morning, but three crews and aircraft are standing by for launch.
“Our hope is that the weather will clear and we can fly a visual search Tuesday afternoon,” said Civil Air Patrol incident commander Maj. Steven DeFord.
A California-based CAP aircrew from Auburn, and two Nevada Wing aircrews from Minden and Carson City are prepared to fly and do visual searches over the mountainous terrain once the weather clears.
A CAP ground team consisting of four search and rescue volunteers from Palo Alto and Sacramento say they are en route to assist Sierra County Sheriff’s Office search teams near Little Truckee Summit in the Tahoe National Forest.
Officials say there are 22 CAP volunteers, three CAP aircraft and one CAP vehicle being used in the search mission.
Tuesday evening there was a shift change at incident command and Civil Air Patrol incident commander Maj. David Boehm said, "We will be flying until sundown. If the aircraft is not located this evening, we plan to resume aerial search operations at sunrise, so long as the weather cooperates."
Boehm continued, "We want to find them, and we will search as long as we are needed."
Story and video: http://www.ktvn.com
According to a press release issued by the Civil Air Patrol, the plane departed the Truckee Airport yesterday around 4 p.m. The two people on board were heading for the Petaluma Municipal Airport (O69), but family members say they never arrived.
The Civil Air Patrol, which is an all-volunteer U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, is assisting the Sierra County Sheriff's Department with the search near Little Truckee Summit in Tahoe National Forest, northwest of the town of Truckee.
Civil Air Patrol Incident Commander Major David Boehm said Tuesday afternoon, "We will be flying until sundown. If the aircraft is not located this evening, we plan to resume aerial search operations at sunrise, so long as the weather permits."
The missing aircraft is equipped with an emergency location transmitter, though as of Tuesday afternoon no signal had been sent. The airplane is a four-seat low wing aircraft, known as a Socata TB-20 Trinidad. It is blue and white with gold trim.
“We want to find them, and we will search as long as we are needed,” he said.
The California Highway Patrol is also assisting in the search, according to Civil Air Patrol spokesperson Lt. Col. Crystal Housman.
Original article can be found here: http://www.sierrasun.com