Aircraft Missing Over Rim

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A man left Colorado in his Cessna 182 Saturday, Dec. 31, for Scottsdale to visit an ailing family member.

"He went off the radar New Year's Eve (Saturday) between Holbrook and Payson," said Civil Air Patrol Mission Information Officer James Nova.

Although the small, single-engine plane seats four, Nova, who characterized the pilot as "younger" and "relatively new," is presumed to have been traveling alone.

The missing Cessna literally went off the radar, as all planes do because of the mountainous area, according to Nova. It did not reappear as expected.

"It's probably on top of the Rim," he said. "There are densely treed areas where one could be 25 yards away in a Jeep and not see a crash. There are open areas too."

Four aircraft spent 21 aggregate hours in flight Sunday searching for the presumably downed plane, and five planes spent 25 hours in the air Monday.

"At this point, we will stop operations around 5 p.m. because the sun is too low then," said Nova in a telephone interview Monday.

Searching was to resume Tuesday around 8 a.m. when the sun is high enough that shadows will not be cast, and Civil Air Patrol volunteers will continue to search daily until the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center tells the volunteers to stop.

CAP has been in touch with the missing pilot's family, and they have been advised of the search and rescue efforts being made, Nova said.

When the ground team verifies the crash site, the family will be contacted and it will be up to the family whether CAP may release details to the press.

Hunters and hikers who think they may have seen something or have information about the downed plane should call local police, (928) 474-5177; the county sheriff's office, (928) 474-2208; or the Forest Service, (928) 474-7900.

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