Monday, January 15, 2018

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec, N54857, registered to Mach Tuck LLC and operated by Air America Flight Center LLC: Fatal accident occurred January 11, 2018 in Elko County, Utah

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity;
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Mach Tuck LLC:

Location: Elko, NV
Accident Number: WPR18FA073
Date & Time: 01/11/2018, 1800 PST
Registration: N54857
Aircraft: PIPER PA 23-250
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Positioning 

On January 11, 2018, about 1800 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-23-250, twin engine airplane, N54857, collided with mountainous terrain about 42 miles south of Elko, Nevada. The commercial pilot was the sole person on board and was fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to Mach Tuck, LLC, and operated by Air America Flight Center, LLC., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a cross-country positioning flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and a VFR flight plan was filed. The flight departed about 1500 from McClellan Airfield (MCC), Sacramento, California and had a destination of Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to preliminary Air Traffic Control (ATC) information, the pilot reported that he was encountering clouds and was asked by the controller if he would like information on nearby airports. The pilot asked for the nearest airport and that he would "head over there." Directions and information on Elko Regional Airport (EKO), Elko, Nevada were provided to the pilot. He replied, "Alright, I'm getting super turbulent over here I'm going to head over there." Shortly after, communication and radar contact were lost.

Review of preliminary radar data revealed a primary target, consistent with the accident airplane, traveling on an eastbound heading at an altitude of about 11,000 ft mean sea level (msl). The target continued eastbound over Pearl Peak's with a summit of 10,848 ft msl, and dropped off from radar shortly after.

After an initial search for the airplane at local airports was unsuccessful, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Alert Notification (ALNOT) for the airplane. Search and rescue efforts ensued, and on January 19, 2018, wreckage was identified from aerial photography on the east face of Pearl Peak near it's summit. An onsite examination by ground personnel identified the wreckage as the accident airplane.

The nearest weather reporting station was EKO, about 42 miles north of the accident site. According to recorded information, the winds were 030 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles or greater, few clouds at 9,000 ft above ground level, temperature 5° C, dew point -1° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.12 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N54857
Model/Series: PA 23-250 250
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Air America Flight Center
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KEKO, 5074 ft msl
Observation Time: 0156 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 31 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 5°C / -1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 9000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots, 30°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Unknown
Departure Point: Sacramento, CA (KMCC)
Destination: Salt Lake City, UT (KSLC) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  40.398889, -115.419722 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

"It's been a while but I'm finally back at it.  Now I just have to wait for the weather to clear up and I'm off to Utah." - Paul Graham, January 9th, 2018

Celebration of Paul's life Saturday, January 27th at 2:00 at Highland Chapel Church in Madison Mississippi, 1620 Mannsdale Road. 

Elko County Sheriff's Office
January 19 at 4:11pm · 

Contact: Ron Supp, Undersheriff 
Telephone: 775.738.3421 
Date: January 19, 2018


Elko, NV - Assistance provided by the pilot’s employer Air America/Eagle View, has led investigators to believe the airplane reported missing the night of January, 11 2018 has possibly been located near Pearl Peak in the Ruby Mountains.

Although this possible sighting of the aircraft looks promising, Undersheriff Ron Supp warns this information is thus far preliminary and it will be some time before investigators will be able to access the location due to terrain and weather.

Photographs appear to reveal wreckage of an aircraft resembling that of the missing Piper aircraft with tail number N54857.  It was reported to be piloted by Paul R. Graham, a 26 year old male from Brandon, Mississippi.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the pilot’s family for their patience and understanding during a very trying time. The Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank Air America/Eagle View, Nevada Division of Emergency Management, the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Military agencies, the Elko County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue volunteers and Utah Air Resources (a volunteer air search and rescue organization) as well as other volunteers and Government agencies providing assistance.

A crashed plane photographed Friday in the mountains of Nevada during a weeklong search effort reportedly is that of Mississippi native Paul Graham.

Stormy weather Friday prevented a helicopter from reaching the site in the Ruby Mountains near the Utah state line to make an official confirmation, said Sgt. Nick Czegledi of the Elko County Sheriff's Department in Nevada.

"We believe we have located it, it's just not easy to get up there right now," Czegledi said Friday. "We're just waiting for the weather to clear. Hopefully, God willing, we can get up there tomorrow and do what we need to do."

According to a post by Graham's father on Facebook, Graham — a 2009 Ridgeland High graduate — went missing January 11 after being diverted to Elko Regional Airport.

The 26-year-old had been flying from Sacramento, California, to Salt Lake City when the plane went down in "icing and turbulent conditions," the post said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told The Associated Press Friday there's been no confirmation of wreckage. He said the pilot was the only one onboard when the Piper PA-23-250 Aztec disappeared from radar south-southeast of Elko. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Paul Graham

ELKO — Searchers might have identified the location of a missing pilot and plane in the Ruby Mountains, the Elko County Sheriff’s Office reported January 19.

“We believe we have possibly, possibly, we’ve located it, and we’re going to attempt to try to retrieve the pilot and the plane when the weather clears, hopefully real soon,” Sgt. Nick Czegledi said.

A Piper PA-23-250 Aztec disappeared from radar Jan. 11 about 37 miles south-southeast of Elko after the pilot reported icy conditions at about 8:30 p.m. The plane, with the aircraft tail number N54857, was flying from McClellan Airfield in Sacramento, California, to Salt Lake City, according to Federal Aviation Administration Pacific Region Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor. Paul R. Graham, the 26-year-old pilot from Mississippi, was the only person onboard.

The county worked with the pilot's employer, Air America/Eagle View, to conduct aerial photography of the area during the search, which has been pursued over approximately the past week as weather safely allowed. The private partner took pictures of the terrain then sent them to its parent company for analysis. On the morning of Jan. 19, the company reported to the sheriff that it had possibly identified the location of the plane in the mountains south of Harrison Pass on the east slope near Pearl Peak, Czegledi said.

“We have a possible location,” Elko County Undersheriff Ron Supp said. “It’s real preliminary at this point.”

Czegledi said he is cautious to believe the report “until we touch it.”

Retrieval, however, is hampered by the wintery weather that rolled into the area Friday, delivering inches of snow and icy conditions in even the lower elevations around Elko and Spring Creek. The Ruby Mountains contain peaks up to 11,388 feet high with rugged terrain.

“We are not going to be able to get to it for an undetermined [amount of time],” Supp said.

On Jan. 18, Czegledi said he called off a temporary flight restriction, originally scheduled through Jan. 20, because of the incoming weather that would interfere with continuation of the search.

“I stopped [it] last night not because they had found it but because of the weather,” Czegledi said.

The TFR was necessary to conduct a methodical search and “control the amount of people wanting to come out and fly,” he said, explaining that too many volunteer search aircraft sometimes fly on top of each other.

Preliminary accident and report data is not yet listed on the FAA website because the plane is still considered missing, Gregor said. If and when wreckage is found, the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

"The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the pilot’s family for their patience and understanding during a very trying time," the Sheriff's Office stated in a press release. "The Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank Air America/Eagle View, Nevada Division of Emergency Management, the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Military agencies, the Elko County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue volunteers and Utah Air Resources (a volunteer air search and rescue organization) as well as other volunteers and government agencies providing assistance."

Original article can be found here ➤

A Mississippi pilot is missing and his family is asking for prayers after his plane disappeared somewhere near the Ruby Mountains in Nevada.

Elko County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Nick Czegledi said over the weekend the small plane headed for Salt Lake City Thursday was believed to have crashed somewhere in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains.

According to family members, the pilot is a 26-year-old Paul Graham. According to the FAA, Graham has a commercial pilot's license.

His Instagram post from Jan. 10 says, "It's been a while but I'm finally back at it. Just have to wait for the weather to clear up and I'm off to Utah."

Czegledi said the Elko County Sheriff’s office received a call of a plane down in the Ruby Mountain wilderness area Thursday. A helicopter search began, though it had to be temporarily discontinued due to heavy winds Thursday night.

The plane was believed to be flying to Salt Lake City from California.

On Tuesday, Czegledi said the search is ongoing with new information in regards to what may have happened to Graham's plane.

"Based on that we're redirecting the search," he said. 

The website Skyvector shows a large area covering part of the Ruby Mountains and southeast of the mountains that has been covered by a Notice To Airmen message "to provide a safe environment for search and rescue." The NOTAM runs through Saturday.

Czegledi said he couldn't release any more information immediately.

Graham's family indicated that they weren't ready to speak about the situation on Tuesday, but in posts on Facebook have asked for the public's continued prayer and help in the search.

The Civil Air Patrol has also been a part of the search, Czegledi said. 

Original article can be found here ➤

ELKO – The search for a missing plane found no traces on Monday but will resume Wednesday in a narrower area, according to the Elko County Sheriff’s Office.

A private party has been assisting with the search, reported Sgt. Nick Czegledi. Stormy weather on Tuesday put the search on hold for the day. National Weather Service radar showed a band of rain moving across the search area from west to east Tuesday morning.

A 26-year-old pilot from Mississippi was flying the plane across the south Ruby Mountain range Thursday night when he reported the twin-engine Piper started to ice up at about 8:30 p.m. There were strong wind gusts in the area at the time, of 60 knots or 70 mph.

The plane was reportedly transporting aerial photography equipment from California to Salt Lake City, with no passengers on board.

Searchers have scoured the vicinity of the Ruby Marshes and Harrison Pass but Czegledi said the focus will move farther south because of new information received by the sheriff’s office. Wednesday’s search will focus between Pearl Peak and Overland Pass in the southern Ruby range.

Czegledi said GPS data indicated the plane cleared the 10,777-foot Pearl Peak by six or seven hundred feet.

The search area is high altitude, rugged terrain that can only be searched by air.

Original article can be found here ➤

ELKO, Nevada (ABC4 News) - Authorities around Elko are searching for an aircraft that was travelling from California to Salt Lake City on Thursday but never arrived. 

Sgt. Nick Czegledi with the Elko Sheriff's Officer said they received a call of possible downed plane somewhere in their area after reports that a 26-year-old Mississippi man flying on his own from California to Salt Lake City went missing.

Czegledi said they started a search on Thursday and into Friday with ground crews and additional air searches in an attempt to locate the missing plane.

At one time authorities thought they had found something in the area during the search on Friday but when they got closer they realized it was not what they were looking for.

The search has covered some area of the Ruby Marshes, just south of Elko, Nevada and along a very long mountainous range.

Czegledi said this is a huge area and may take some time to find him. 

A new search was started Sunday with assistance from several private search parties and law enforcement and search and rescue.A chopper was also among those searching for the missing plane.

So far, have still have not located any aircraft, or evidence of that may have crashed. 

The identity of the man is not being released at this time. 

Story and video ➤

ELKO – Searchers from the Elko County Sheriff’s Office and the Civil Air Patrol will be out for the third day today attempting to find a small aircraft that went down near the Ruby Mountains.

Undersheriff Ron Supp said the pilot, a 26-year-old from Mississippi, contacted the airport around 8:30 p.m. Thursday and said his plane was icing up.

There were strong wind gusts in the area at the time.

The twin-engine Piper was reportedly transporting aerial photography equipment from California to Salt Lake City.

The Nevada Department of Emergency Management contacted the sheriff's office about the plane Thursday night. The incident occurred just before an officer-involved shooting in Spring Creek, in which a man shot and killed his wife and was killed by officers.

A ground search was launched but turned up no sightings.

Searchers scoured the vicinity of the Ruby Marshes and Harrison Pass on Friday and believed they had spotted the plane in the Ruby Marshes but that report turned out to be false.

“Right now we’re speculating that he might be further east,” Supp said Monday morning.

Several parties have been helping with the search, according to Sgt. Nick Czegledi. They include Reach air ambulance, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge and volunteers.

The sheriff’s new drone team also has be involved with the search.

Czegledi said winds on Thursday night were measured at 60 knots, which is roughly 70 miles per hour.

It also may have been snowing at the time, and Czegledi said the pilot may have climbed above 9,000 feet to avoid it.

Several peaks in the Ruby Mountains exceed 11,000 feet.

Original article can be found here ➤

(KUTV) - The Utah National Guard has joined crews in a search near Elko, Nev., for a small airplane that disappeared en route to Salt Lake City from California, Jan. 11, 2018.

The Elko County Sheriff’s Office was contacted to help locate a missing plane that was thought to have gone missing in the area of the Ruby Mountains.

The Sheriff’s Office, Search and Rescue, Civil Air Patrol, NV Department of Wildlife, and the Ruby Marsh Management Team along with other agencies are still trying to locate the plane described as a twin-engine Piper aircraft.

The 26-year-old pilot from Mississippi was the only person occupying the plane at the time of the last contact.