Crews hunt for plane that may have crashed near Vail |

Crews hunt for plane that may have crashed near Vail

Matt Zalaznick
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” The search for a single engine Cessna 182 plane that is believed to have crashed near Lake Josephine in the Holy Cross Wilderness near Vail, Colorado continued Wednesday.

The pilot, whose name and hometown have not been released, left the Rocky Mountain Metro Airport in Jefferson County at approximately 2:45 p.m., Tuesday, and was headed to Aspen. The last radar ping on the aircraft was at approximately 45 minutes later near Lake Josephine.

Mike Fergus, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Northwest Mountain Region, said the pilot did not submit to the administration Instrument Flight Rules, which are common among aircrafts.

He submitted Visual Flight Rules, Fergus said, “Which means it’s just a visual flight plan. So we don’t provide air traffic services. You just follow the rules of the road.”

The pilot was the only occupant of the plane. At this time it is unknown if the pilot is still alive, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office says.

A five-member crew from Vail Mountain Rescue and six members of the West Eagle Search and Rescue started the search from the Roaring Fork Valley side, near Basalt.

“We sent out a ground team at 3 a.m.,” said Scott Thompson, Basalt’s fire chief and member of West Eagle Search and Rescue.

The terrain is in the Holy Cross Wilderness, so special permission will be required from the U.S. Forest Service to enter the area with mechanized equipment. That permission is typically granted in a life-threatening situation or to retrieve a body.

The area around the lakes might not be accessible by vehicles. It is steep and covered in about 18 inches of snow.

There are other, less-grim possibilities for the missing aircraft, Fergus said, even though teams continue the search and there’s been no word on their progress yet.

“A lot of times you’ll have people take off and plan to get to point B at a certain time, then they say, ‘Oh, I’m hungry, we’ll stop for lunch,’ and they don’t show up when they’re supposed to,” Fergus said. “Or they’ll land somewhere else and didn’t let anybody know about it.”

The administration has issued an alert to all airports between the plane’s departure point and planned destination of Aspen.

The Aspen Times contributed to this report

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