Plane search suspended in Yosemite

Worsening weather forces effort to halt

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comDecember 27, 2012 

Because of adverse weather conditions, Yosemite National Park officials have suspended the more than week-long search for a plane that went missing in the area.

"Based on the snow accumulation in the park over the last few days, we felt that any evidence or sign of plane wreckage would be impossible to see," said Kari Cobb, park spokeswoman. "The decision weighed heavily on park officials."

The single-engine plane was last detected by radar on the afternoon of Dec 17. Officials identified the aircraft in the North Dome area in the park.

Search efforts throughout the week failed to yield any clues or evidence regarding the plane's location. Search operations have been halted for the remainder of the winter season.

More than 5 feet of new snow has accumulated recently over the search area, making the search more complicated. At the same time, strong winds have created extremely hazardous search conditions, officials said.

The park initiated an aerial search on Dec. 18, and efforts continued throughout the week.

About 60 people assisted in the air search, including park search and rescue teams, the California Highway Patrol and the Civil Air Patrol.

According to aviation records, Nicol Wilson, from the Santa Barbara area, was the pilot of the missing plane. There were no passengers on board.

The park will resume search efforts in the spring, when weather and snow conditions permit.

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.

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