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Yosemite visitor finds plane missing since December

A Yosemite National Park visitor spotted a plane that has been missing since December, according to park authorities.

The pilot, Nicol Wilson, was found dead on the scene after the wreckage was reported Saturday, said Scott Gediman, a park spokesman.

Wilson, who was in his 60s, was flying the single-engine Mooney M20F from his home in Santa Barbara to Mammoth Lakes, Gediman said.

The plane was reported missing Dec. 17, 2012, by Wilson’s family, said Lynn Lunsford, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Radar tracking lost contact with the aircraft over Yosemite, leading to a search at that time, Gediman said.

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Authorities attempted to locate the missing plane via helicopter, but were unsuccessful because they were looking for a white plane in white snow, he said. Crews temporarily called off the search later that month, but began looking again this spring when the snow began melting.

On several occasions, ground teams and dogs were sent to work in conjunction with spotters in helicopters and planes, Gediman said.

The search was unsuccessful, but the park visitor on Saturday reported seeing something “glistening or gleaming” on a ridge in the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp area, he said.

Park rangers hiked to the location Sunday and found the crash site, according to a news release. No details are known about what downed the plane, Gediman said.

Rangers will begin removing the wreckage once they complete an investigation in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA, he said.

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Twitter:@emfoxhall

emily.foxhall@latimes.com


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