Search for missing plane -- experienced only!

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zihuat
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Search for missing plane -- experienced only!

Post by zihuat » Dec 03 2006 10:09 am

I am assisting in the search for my niece, Marcy Randolph, who disappeared in a small plane over n.central Arizona (near Sedona) on 9/24/06. Hoping to find/direct hikers willing to go into search areas where visibilty from air is hampered by treecover & terrain (like upper Sycamore Canyon, Volunteer Canyon, Little LO Spring Canyon, etc.).

CAUTION! These are extremely rugged and remote areas -- Please do not go if you lack proper equipment and skills!

More details, and contact info, are available at http://www.N2700Q.com.
A Google Earth "placemarks" file, showing the search areas and relevant documents is also available at:
http://www.N2700Q.com/googleearth

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cabel
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Re: Search for missing plane -- experienced only!

Post by cabel » Dec 03 2006 5:09 pm

God bless and God's speed in getting information. I will keep my eyes open wide when in that area.

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Vaporman
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Post by Vaporman » Dec 03 2006 7:29 pm

Make sure you bring adequate clothing this time of year also. Trees and canyon walls may block out the sun making it even colder. Best plan of attack would be to hike the rims of the canyons in the area. Happen to have GPS coordinates for where the plane left radar contact?

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zihuat
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Post by zihuat » Dec 04 2006 7:28 am

34° 48' 7" N
111° 56' 52" W
Heading approx. due north.
Altitude 5,200'
Descending at 500 feet per minute (normal controlled descent rate, but could not have maintained this for more than a couple minutes before leveling out because of terrain altitude at that point).

I've run sims from his last known position (staying below the radar, as that's the apparent profile) and believe that if he didn't turn west toward Sycamore Pass, he probably continued up into the Loy Canyon area with the idea of then looping eastward through Secret Canyon. I really think the aircraft is so well hidden from the air that it's going to take a "ground pounder" to find it.

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fairweather8588
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Post by fairweather8588 » Dec 04 2006 11:10 am

Anybody know of any roads along the top of those canyons?
No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength

Kerouac

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hikeaz
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Post by hikeaz » Dec 04 2006 12:21 pm

fairweather8588 wrote:Anybody know of any roads along the top of those canyons?
http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/maps/m ... o_2000.jpg

http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/maps/m ... o_2000.jpg
kurt

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jjr6
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Post by jjr6 » Dec 04 2006 12:34 pm

If the plane headed due north from a point east of Sycamore Pass, but did not make it over the rim as you suggest may have happened, the search should concentrate on the upper drainages of Mooney, Loy, Red and Hart Well Canyons. Various branches of Woody Mountain Road cover the rims between Little LO Canyon/East Sycamore Canyon and East Pocket. The Secret Mountain trail takes off from the top of the Loy Canyon trail in this area as well and provides views into the canyons. There is a enormous number of roads on the rim, but also very complex terrain with all the small canyons heading into Loy Canyon and Secret Canyon. Many of the these canyons are passable to some extent to persons on foot (no horses).

If the plane did head up Sycamore, thats better because upper Sycamore is actually very accessible, at least in comparison. Its possible to hike from Taylor Cabin all the way up Sycamore and into Volunteer and other side-canyon without much difficulty (takes time though), or conversely, down from the Garland Prairie area.

Has Yavapai or Coconino county Search and Resucue attempted a ground search yet in this area? Maybe I'm naive, but it seems incredible that the family needs to orchestrate this effort themselves.

Best of Luck.

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Vaporman
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Post by Vaporman » Dec 04 2006 4:04 pm

From the site, it sounds like they've done a fair amount of searching already. The plane is either in a different area or just hidden very well. Sycamore canyon and Secret/Red Rock Wilderness are sweet places to hike and definetly on my list. I hate to say this, but up there it's just a little to cold for me this time of year. I'll be up in those areas this Spring at least a couple weekends. I'm suprised I'm just now hearing about this. October and November would have been great months to go exploring up there. Actually I spent a whole weekend in October just hiking around up in Sedona.

Are the forums on that site the best place to get an idea of where's been searched already?

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Wreckchaser
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Missing Cesna

Post by Wreckchaser » Dec 04 2006 5:21 pm

Most small planes that are lost in remote areas are found in thick wooded sections that are off from trails or roads and at times not all that far. I have done a lot of off trail searching for old WWII military and civilian crash sites around Arizona. Finding and documenting these old sites is quite difficult at times even with good crash site location information. The best place to begin looking is near the last known radar position and in the places with the tallest trees. Fixed wing aircraft are not the best for spotting a downed plane the size of a Cessna 172 and I am not sure if any helicopters were used in the original search for this plane. Most hard impact aircraft crashes have some fire associated with them, but this is not always the case in thick forested areas. The lack of fire would eliminate any burn area that can be seen from the air. Tree top damage, if it can be seen from above a canyon can be an indication of a crash and this can be missed by a fixed wing craft or even a helicopter.

I am sorry for the loss of life and will pass this information on to the Military Aviation Archaeology community. The sad truth is that these planes can stay missing for many years. There is currently a civilian crash somewhere near Greer that has been missing for over three years now. There was one in the Chiricahuas that was missing for nine years before it was spotted from above the trees by a helicopter crew looking for potential heliports. If someone decides to put together an organized ground search for this plane, I will be happy to help and will try to have some of my friend's join in.

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zihuat
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Post by zihuat » Dec 04 2006 5:32 pm

In response to Vaporman's reply:
Negative on the N2700Q.com forums. We've had no recent activity there, and so have been dealing directly with people who contact us through the site. (to access the forum: LOGIN: "verde" / PASSWORD: "sez")

The response we're getting on this forum is very encouraging. Keep it up!

Understand your reluctance to trek up there in winter conditions, Vaporman. Dangerous, no doubt. We tried getting the word out back in Sept/Oct -- plastered posters from PHX to Sedona -- but some of the impetus was lost when ANOTHER lost plane was found in the Verde River near Bartlett Res (tripped on a powerline, killing 2), and people thought it was OUR plane :(

Speaking of powerlines, I've also wondered if he didn't crawl up out of Verde Valley over Buck Ridge (NE of Casner Mt), catch the high neutral wire (hard to see -- doesn't send an alarm), and tumble into the trees on the NW side of the ridge. We've run it with a helo (as does APS regularly) but obviously the trees could have the wreck well hidden.

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Nighthiker
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Post by Nighthiker » Dec 04 2006 5:49 pm

Do you think the radar track is from the plane your niece was in ? I have flown out of Deer Valley and Falcon Field as a passenger, flown to Sedona, Payson and Globe and have had a change of plans while inflight.
jk

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zihuat
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Post by zihuat » Dec 04 2006 5:51 pm

In response to jjr6's reply:
Absolutely, jjr6. Thanks for the added info on those areas.
As I run sims -- moving north from the LKP at 5,00 feet or so (lower than I would as a "conservative" pilot) the entrances to Mooney, Loy, and even Hart Well Canyons all seem like they'd be intriguing to a guy who liked to "buzz canyons."
They also lead over into Secret Canyon and hence toward Sedona. A nice roundabout sightseeing trip ... until a gust flips you onto your wingtip.

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Shi
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Post by Shi » Dec 04 2006 6:50 pm

Does anyone have any information on the local Canyoneering club. I thought that I did, but I can't seem to find it. I bet they could be of great service with their wet suits, gear and ropes! Mary
"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

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Vaporman
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Post by Vaporman » Dec 04 2006 6:55 pm

Another thing that just came to mind, Sedona will probably get blanketed in snow this month or next and based on pictures, probably won't melt until around March. So searching for a white plane will be very difficult. Any idea if any of the ground thumpers hiked up Loy Canyon and hiked around the edges of Secret Mountain? You can see many canyons and for great distances from this sweet butte. 8) Based off of weather.com, it looks like it hasn't snowed up there yet with none in the immediate future. Any of you Sedona natives know the usual snow schedule? I tend to only visit there spring & fall.

There is a Sonoran chapter of the ACA. One of the guys in it is a climbing friend that I see every week at the local climbing gym. I can't find the site, but I can ask him about it.

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big_load
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Re: Missing Cesna

Post by big_load » Dec 04 2006 10:32 pm

Wreckchaser wrote:Most small planes that are lost in remote areas are found in thick wooded sections that are off from trails or roads and at times not all that far.... The sad truth is that these planes can stay missing for many years.
A plane of similar size went down this year on a little mountain near my home in NJ. Although its position was correctly estimated to about 2 miles (within a slightly larger area bounded by heavily-traveled roads and residential developments), it evaded weeks of intensive air and ground search before bushwhackers finally found it combing the mountainside. I was thinking about it when I saw the B-24 on Basset peak last week. Good luck and best wishes to everyone searching.

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zihuat
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Post by zihuat » Dec 05 2006 3:01 pm

[quote="Vaporman"]...I'm suprised I'm just now hearing about this. October and November would have been great months to go exploring up there. Actually I spent a whole weekend in October just hiking around up in Sedona...quote]
That IS a shame. I thought we'd covered HikeAz early on in the search, and looking back I see we did. The missing plane info and the N2700Q.com website link was posted on this forum back on October 16th.
I hope something can still come of this. Appreciate the interest.

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0hurricanes
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Re: Missing Cesna

Post by 0hurricanes » Dec 05 2006 5:48 pm

There is no snow in the Sedona area. It's been cold but no snow. There is an outfit in Sedona called ropes of life or something of that nature. They rescue stranded hikers and climbers. You might want to call them, if I can get the proper name I'll post it. Best of luck, I hope you get some info soon.

Jeff

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zihuat
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Re: Missing Cesna

Post by zihuat » Dec 05 2006 7:08 pm

big_load wrote:
Wreckchaser wrote:Most small planes that are lost in remote areas are found in thick wooded sections that are off from trails or roads and at times not all that far.... The sad truth is that these planes can stay missing for many years.
A plane of similar size went down this year on a little mountain near my home in NJ. Although its position was correctly estimated to about 2 miles (within a slightly larger area bounded by heavily-traveled roads and residential developments), it evaded weeks of intensive air and ground search before bushwhackers finally found it combing the mountainside. I was thinking about it when I saw the B-24 on Basset peak last week. Good luck and best wishes to everyone searching.
That's VERY interesting, Wreckchaser & Ohurricanes. We had one up here in Washington that was lost for thirty years until a forest fire revealed it. Indeed, the SAR guys have an acronym: POD (Probability of Detection) and in this case some of the treecover puts the POD% very low -- especially from the air.

Does anyone here hike Clear Creek Canyon? I understand it's very rugged and unfrequented ... it's possible that N2700Q turned SE and did a little sightseeing down that way on his intended return to Phoenix (the flight was supposed to be a short -- "one bladder"-- daytrip). Wondering about treecover there. Photos of any of these canyons would be great if you have them.

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Wreckchaser
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Re: Missing Cesna

Post by Wreckchaser » Dec 05 2006 7:54 pm

big_load wrote:
Wreckchaser wrote:Most small planes that are lost in remote areas are found in thick wooded sections that are off from trails or roads and at times not all that far.... The sad truth is that these planes can stay missing for many years.
A plane of similar size went down this year on a little mountain near my home in NJ. Although its position was correctly estimated to about 2 miles (within a slightly larger area bounded by heavily-traveled roads and residential developments), it evaded weeks of intensive air and ground search before bushwhackers finally found it combing the mountainside. I was thinking about it when I saw the B-24 on Basset peak last week. Good luck and best wishes to everyone searching.
The Bassett Peak B-24 was missing for a month before it was found while the CAP was looking for a missing B-17. The B-24 was thought to have crashed in Mexico. At least this Cessna had a radar contact before it was lost.

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Vaporman
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Re: Missing Cesna

Post by Vaporman » Dec 05 2006 10:02 pm

zihuat wrote:Does anyone here hike Clear Creek Canyon? I understand it's very rugged and unfrequented ... it's possible that N2700Q turned SE and did a little sightseeing down that way on his intended return to Phoenix (the flight was supposed to be a short -- "one bladder"-- daytrip). Wondering about treecover there. Photos of any of these canyons would be great if you have them.
I'm assuming you're refering to West Clear Creek, east and south a bit from Sedona. I hiked up there 4 times this summer and plan to return a few times next summer. A few other of the canyoneering types on this site frequet there often as well. In fact now that I check my calendar, I was up there the following weekend and did a 5 mile stretch of the creek and didn't see anything of that nature. Also middle of October, I did Bear Mountain, Boyton canyon, Munds Mountain, Jacks Canyon, & Fay Canyon and didn't see any sign of a crash. But then again I wasn't looking for something like that.

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