Wednesday, January 18 , 2017, 8:55 am | Mostly Cloudy 47º


Local News

Still No Trace of Missing Plane from Santa Ynez

A second full day of searching on Thursday turned up no trace of the plane piloted by a Solvang man that disappeared earlier this week over the high country of Yosemite National Park.

Searchers, working mainly from the air, have scoured 600 square miles of rugged terrain between 8,000 and 12,000 feet of elevation, said Kari Cobb, a Yosemite ranger.

“No clues or signs of the aircraft have been discovered,” Cobb said.

The plane, which was en route from the Santa Ynez Airport to Mammoth Yosemite Airport near Mammoth Lakes, disappeared over the North Dome area of the park about 12:30 p.m., Cobb said.

“We got another foot of snow after that,” Cobb said, “and there already was a lot of snow.”

The pilot — the only person believed to be on board — has been identified as Nicol Wilson, who is in his late 60s.

He was reported missing by his family Monday night when he failed to show up in Mammoth, Cobb said.

FAA records show that a Mooney M20F aircraft — a four-seat, propeller-driven plane — is registered to a Nicol S. Wilson of Solvang.

A spokesman for the Santa Ynez Airport confirmed the plane was based there, and said no signal has been picked up from the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter.

North Dome is located along the Tioga Pass Road, which is inaccessible from the ground this time of year due to snow.

Aerial search conditions Wednesday and Thursday were good, with clear skies, Cobb said. But a strong winter storm is expected to hit the region Friday, bringing up to 4 feet of new snow to higher elevations.

“We’ll search the area until the weather stops us …” Cobb said. “If that’s the case, we may have to say we’ll resume (the search) in the spring (once the snow melts).”

She added, however, that no decision has been made regarding the duration of the search.

Cobb noted that a California Highway Patrol helicopter has flown 825 miles over the search area, while Civil Air Patrol (CAP) fixed-wing aircraft have flown 2,214 miles.

Some 60 personnel are assisting in the air search, she said, including search-and-rescue teams from Yosemite National Park, the CHP and the CAP.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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