Aspen pilot still looking for missing propeller
Pitkin County correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” Months after he made an emergency landing without a propeller, Barry Cox is offering $1,000 to anyone who finds the prop he believes is somewhere in the hills above Ruedi Reservoir.
On Dec. 26, 2007, Cox was flying with three passengers in his single-engine Piper Malibu en route to Denver when something went terribly wrong.
He heard a loud boom, then oil spewed onto his windshield. So Cox turned around and glided eight miles to an emergency landing at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. He navigated by looking out his side windows.
Only when he landed ” something airport officials said was a “tremendous job” ” did Cox find out that his propeller had fallen off.
Now, he wants to know what happened.
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Cox recently launched a website ” http://www.wheresmyprop.com ” and said he needs the propeller as part of an ongoing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation to determine who’s at fault.
Cox’s Piper Malibu dates back to 1988, but the Continental engine had been recently re-manufactured and had just 147 hours in the air when something failed on the crank shaft connecting the prop to the engine.
“I know it isn’t my fault that the prop fell off,” Cox said. “But they can’t make that determination until they’ve got the prop.”
Cox said NTSB investigators can’t determine whether if it was the fault of the engine installation or the actual engine parts, and the difference could mean tens of thousands of dollars to him.
The company that installed the engine ” Mercury Air Services out of Jackson, Miss. ” has since gone out of business, and Cox said he doesn’t expect to collect any money from them if they are at fault.
But if the investigation proves that Continental, the engine manufacturer, is at fault, he could recover a portion of the $80,000 he shelled out for a new engine.
“Preliminarily they say they can’t tell if it was a problem with the crank shaft,” Cox said, and he believes the missing evidence is lying in the hills above Ruedi.
His website contains detailed maps and global-positioning coordinates for would-be searchers.
“I went two days ago up in that area to see if the snow was melted,” Cox said, and NTSB investigators have been out in helicopters searching the area.
“Anybody that can find it, I’d be glad to pay them,” Cox said.