PRESCOTT - At about 6:15 a.m. Sunday, members of an Arizona Civil Air Patrol wing found a downed aircraft at Bagdad less than 12 hours after the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center received an emergency signal from the plane.
The pilot and any passengers onboard the airplane had left the crash site by the time rescuers arrived.
An AFRCC satellite received the airplane's emergency signal around 7:30 p.m. Saturday and notified the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said. AFRCC could not confirm a plane had crashed, he said, but identified Bagdad airport as the source of the signal.
"Deputies were sent to the area and spent several hours searching in darkness but could not locate the downed aircraft," D'Evelyn said. AFRCC then contacted the CAP wing and asked it to do a flyover of the area.
The CAP crew located the aircraft about 100 yards south of the Bagdad airport runway and notified the sheriff's office. A deputy at the site said the Beech single engine B23 suffered extensive damage.
"Deputies checked the cockpit and found no evidence indicating that the pilot or a passenger, if any, had been injured," D'Evelyn said. "We had not received any calls from anyone about a plane crash, and deputies checked around and talked to some campers in the area, but no one said they heard anything."
According to the airplane's tail number, the plane is registered to a man in Orange County, Calif. As of Monday, authorities in California could not find the man, D'Evelyn said.
After YCSO deputies could not find evidence of a crime, the sheriff's office notified the National Transportation Safety Board.
"It is their (NTSB) case now," D'Evelyn said. "Because of the remoteness of the crash site, they have asked for our assistance. We are assisting with collecting evidence and taking photographs of the crash and e-mailing all the information to the NTSB team in Hawaii."
The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information about the crash or the pilot to call 928-771-3260. Persons wishing to remain anonymous may call Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232.
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