H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Dec 20, 2012 9:40 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Search efforts still underway to find missing Solvang pilot

Efforts are still being made by various search and rescue teams to find a missing pilot from Solvang. Yosemite National Park officials identified the pilot as Nicol Wilson. They say he took off in his single engine, 1966 Mooney M20 plane on Monday from Santa Ynez Airport, and he was supposed to meet his family in Mammoth Lakes. The plane was last detected via radar on Monday afternoon.

The California Highway Patrol is providing a helicopter, and the Civil Air Force- which is a volunteer sect for the United States Air Force- has four fixed-wing planes involved in the search.

Shawn Knight, President of the Santa Ynez Airport, said Wilson's plane left radar 33-miles away from his course, and it looked like Wilson may have tried to navigate around bad weather. Knight also said the Sierra Mountains and the Tioga Pass are treacherous terrain.

Ken Wsiaki, a pilot who was flying into Santa Ynez on Thursday, showed KSBY his ELT (emergency locator transmitter) in his plane. He said the ELT is a beacon that will alert the Federal Aviation Administration of a location in case of a plane crash. But, Yosemite officials said they have not been able to locate Wilson's plane via his beacon receiver.

"We all try to stay as safe as possible, and flying is inherently a dangerous occupation," said Wsiaki.

Knight also told KSBY that Mooney airframes are considered extremely durable and safe, and there is nothing in it's history that would make it dangerous.

Yosemite Park officials said they will continue search efforts on Friday, but a winter snow storm will likely significantly hinder that.

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