Missing Yosemite Plane: Search Continues For Vanished Aircraft

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MISSING YOSEMITE PLANE
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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK -- Yosemite National Park officials said Thursday the search for a single-engine plane that may have gone missing over the park continues.

The plane was last detected on radar Monday afternoon, near the North Dome area in the park, according to a park press release.

The plane, flown by pilot Nicol Wilson of the Santa Barbara area, was flying from that city to the Mammoth Lakes Airport on the east side of the Sierra Nevada when it disappeared. There were no passengers on board. He was reported missing by his family Monday evening after failing to arrive in Mammoth as planned, according to park officials.

Search efforts for the missing plane were initiated Tuesday morning. Poor weather and lack of visibility hindered the air search efforts. Additional efforts to locate the plane using beacon receivers were unsuccessful, park officials said.

Several aircraft searched during daylight hours Wednesday, although the search remains difficult because of more than a foot of fresh snow at the higher elevations in the park. Officials said no clues or signs of the aircraft have been discovered.

The park is expecting a winter storm this afternoon, which is expected to bring heavy snow and strong winds. Officials said the storm will probably significantly hinder search efforts.

The search area, roughly 600 square miles, is in a rugged section of the park that's inaccessible by ground vehicles this time of the year. So far, a California Highway Patrol helicopter has flown 825 miles over the search area. Civil Air Patrol aircraft have flown 2,214 miles over the search area, officials said.

According to the press release, about 60 people are assisting in the air search, including teams from Yosemite National Park, CHP and the air patrol. ___

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