04M1959A ELT Mission 2 September 2004

Click on a thumbnail for an 800x600 image, click again on that image for full-size. More comments at bottom of page.

  AFRCC_04M_1959A_01a AFRCC_04M_1959A_28a AFRCC_04M_1959A_33a AFRCC_04M_1959A_35 AFRCC_04M_1959A_58  
  Aircraft is in circle on far left side, on the right is an arrow to the left showing South Platte River flowing to the left, to SE from NW Prop tips curled back (toward plane), meaning engine was not developing power (at idle) when the prop tips hit Circled propeller gouges in the dirt, aircraft went left to right Muddy tailwheel and main wheels, to the left you can see how wet the ground is

  AFRCC_04M_1959A_59 AFRCC_04M_1959A_61 AFRCC_04M_1959A_64 AFRCC_04M_1959A_67 AFRCC_04M_1959A_69a  
  Nice panel!!! This was a fairly new airplane (manufactured in '97) in nice condition. You don't usually see grass over the glareshield Seatbelt hanging on the left. Soon we'll see a warning from the lawyers "Turn Coordinator not accurate when upside down" :-) Red highlight box over ELT antenna, which is mounted vertically inside the tail

  AFRCC_04M_1959A_74 AFRCC_04M_1959A_83a Approach-on-foot landed-short muddy-tailwheel  
  ELT George's GPS with actual location. Wreckage was removed that same day so there's nothing there now. As Mark & George approached on foot Landed short in the grass Very muddy tailwheel showed he likely landed in a 3-point attitude

  muddy-weeds sandbar upside-down-2 upside-down Crash-Site-Map  
  Ruts in the grass from the main wheels are visible. If he'd landed beyond the weeds he might have made it Aircraft on far left, in the weeds just short of the sand Wingtip says "Aviat Aircraft Husky A-1", the modern-day Piper SuperCub look-alike X marks the spot

George's comments:   

To supplement what Mark sent -- one is a panorama of the sandbar, with the aircraft location circled in red. Interestingly, the ELT antenna was inside the aft end of the fuselage -- works OK with a fabric skin -- picture #69a shows it, a bit blurry, so I've highlited and annotated the image. Also, I've included the best of the cockpit images, the ELT where we found it, the bent prop and scalloped earth, crash path, my GPS unit showing the location, and other views. George

Mark's comments: 

The tail picture denotes mud which means to me that he was in 3-pt landing mode (more like soft field). In short, if he would have extended his final, he would have touched down on the sand bar instead of the muddy weeds. Could have pulled it off - easy.


Evidently the pilot had to go pee real bad so instead of continuing 5 minutes to GXY, he decided to land on a sandbar on the Platte River (not kidding). He "landed" around 08:30am. I am not sure but I think after he wrecked his Aviat A-1 Husky... He still peed his pants. By the way - Skeeters are THICK on the river. Hope George and I didn't contract West Nile.

Comments from the IC:

Aircraft flipped upside down on landing, pilot ok and apparently walked out, then returned and turned off ELT.

ELT was self-terminated at 1329. Mission will close when ground teams are recovered.

Huge thanks to all who responded, especially Mark Sheets and George Janson ground teams, and David Hurtado who handled our requests for aircrew "on again and off again".


- Mark Young, Wing Alert Officer, paged out with SARSAT hit and request for IC

- Jer/ Eberhard contacted me and Mark Young with information that a local rental C172, 8MN, had just gone down 20 north of Downtown Fort Collins. Call to Gates Pilot Center revealed aircraft and everyone ok, perfect off-airport landing, and they had verified ELT had not gone off.  Hmmm SARSAT hit is a different aircraft!

- I assumed IC duties for ELT and Roy Schutt local alert officer ensured ground teams (the always-available Mark Sheets and George Janson) were launching

- Got permission to launch a/c, Roy Schutt tried to find an aircrew locally. Plenty of Scanners but no Mission Pilot found.

- Mark Young paged out to Wing for an aircrew, Dave Hurtado of Black Sheep started finding a crew, Andew McKenna offered an observer and plane, then Howard McClure and John Butler with 69X

- Mark Sheets picked up a strong ELT signal and was within 1/2 mile of a dirt strip where he had previously turned off ELTs. Cancelled request for aircraft.

- Mark went to the dirt strip and hangar and signal was not coming from there. Was unsure how long it would take the DF the signal in the open terrain (east of GXY near Highway 34 roughly west of Riverside Reservoir). Re-activated call for aircraft.

- AFRCC verified second satellite pass with SARSAT hit within 2 miles of original hit. Mission number issued.

- Mark heard signal terminate, come back on for 2 sweeps, and terminate again.

- Still no signal, re-cancelled call for aircraft (David Hurtado thanks so much for staying calm through this, and thanks to your crew!)

- Mark interviewed locals in the area and discovered information about the pilot who had landed and walked out for help. Unverified report is that pilot tried to land on a sandbar but the sand was too wet and the plane flipped on landing.

- Mark drove around on the 44,000 acre ranch with landowner to find aircraft for tail number and ELT model information to close out the mission.

- Aircraft was a Husky, pilot was a local. NTSB / sheriff / FSDO / FAA have all been notified.

- Mark and George got good pictures, we can discuss at the next squadron meeting.

Thanks to all!

Sue Wolber


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