Park County SAR locates wreckage of missing aircraft; Conditions of occupants still unknown

CODY – The Park County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team (SAR) have located the 1963 Mooney M20C aircraft that was reported missing on Saturday, May 10, 2014. The condition of the occupants is still unknown at this time.

The plane, piloted by 84-year-old Robert Zimmerman of Hunstville, Alabama, has not been heard from since it departed Yellowstone Regional Airport on Tuesday morning. Due to the size of the aircraft, they were not required to file a formal flight plan. The plane’s only other passenger is 86-year-old Ward Zimmerman of Seattle, Washington.

Using a helicopter provided by Sky Aviation based out of Worland, the missing aircraft was located at 9:19 a.m. this morning. The location of the aircraft is on the eastern slope of Howell Mountain approximately 4.5 miles south of Highway 14-16-20 west at the Buffalo Bill Boy Scout Camp. It is settled in a steep ravine with a large cornice of snow situated above it. It has heavy front end damage and one wing has been torn from the plane.

The helicopter was able to land two SAR personnel on top of Howell Mountain directly above the wreckage. Tests performed by the SAR team determined that the snowpack directly above the wreckage was extremely unstable and that the risk of an avalanche was too high to attempt to reach the plane.

A Black Hawk helicopter has been requested and is en route to Cody from the Air National Guard base in Cheyenne. Once it reaches the scene, options will be discussed that include possibly lowering rescuers down to the wreckage to determine the condition of the occupants.

More information will follow as it become available.