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Nellis Airmen locate missing aircraft

by 1st. Lt. Matthew Scherzi
Civil Air Patrol California Wing

5/6/2009 - MERCED, Calif. (AFNS) -- An HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue crew from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., found the wreckage an overdue aircraft in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range May 1.

The missing aircraft was the subject of the large-scale search by state officials and Civil Air Patrol members, but there were no survivors from the wreckage.

The family of the incident has been notified.

Four helicopters and 24 Airmen from the 58th and 66th Rescue squadrons deployed to assist in the search for a pilot and passenger who were aboard a motorized sailplane that disappeared from radar April 24 near Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

The couple was reported overdue when they failed to arrive in Modesto, Calif. on a flight from Tonopah, Nev. The Civil Air Patrol was activated by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and a full scale search was initiated April 25.

Over the next week, more than 200 Civil Air Patrol members from throughout California and Nevada flew more than 150 missions in support of the search. They were joined by helicopters from the California National Guard at Moffett Federal Airfield and personnel and aircraft from the 58th and 66th Rescue squadrons.

Search crews had to endure high winds, treacherous terrain and altitudes as high as 17,500 feet during flights over the search area. High-altitude flight requiring the use of oxygen provided additional operational and logistical challenges.

The Mono County Sheriff's Office was involved from the start, and the California Emergency Management Agency staff was instrumental in marshalling local and state assets for this search.

Officials from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center requested the assistance of the Nellis AFB Airmen and aircraft May 1,and within an hour of arriving on scene, the search ended when an HH-60G aircrew spotted and positively identified the missing aircraft.


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