Thursday, August 17 , 2017, 7:29 am | Fair 61º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Heavy Snow Could Delay Search for Plane Indefinitely

Heavy snowfall has halted the search for a missing plane — piloted by a Solvang man — that disappeared over Yosemite National Park more than a week ago.

A park official said late Monday that the search could be put on hold until the snow melts in the spring, although that decision has not yet been made.

“We are not searching right now,” said Yosemite ranger Kari Cobb. “It’s been snowing since Friday night, and there is no visibility.”

The search area has received 4-5 feet of new snow since Friday, and the stormy conditions are expected to last for several more days, Cobb said.

“More than likely, we will not be able to search until the snow starts to melt off again, just because at this point the plane is probably covered in snow,” 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. Dec. 17, Cobb said.

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

FAA records show that the plane — a Mooney M20F, four-seat, propeller-driven aircraft — 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.

A decision on when to resume the search — which has been conducted from the air due to heavy snow in the search area — will be made once the snow storms abate, Cobb said.

Thus far, searchers have scoured 600 square miles of rugged terrain between 8,000 and 12,000 feet in elevation, Cobb said.

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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >