Grand Canyon Sightseeing Plane Crashes; No Sign Of Life from Five Aboard
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A Grand Canyon sightseeing plane slammed into a mountain east of here in bad weather, killing all five on board, authorities said today after finding the wreckage.
″We have rescue personnel on the scene and there are no survivors,″ Karen Whitney, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said this morning.
The Las Vegas Airlines plane, with a pilot and four passengers aboard, disappeared from radar at about 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Helicopters airlifted crews to the crash site after ground crews spent the night combing the mountainous area in Mohave County, Ariz., 40 miles east of Las Vegas. Visibility dropped to as low as 100 feet Tuesday night, Ms. Whitney said.
The crash occurred at the 4,800-foot level of Mount Wilson, 100 feet below the summit of a ridge line, Ms. Whitney said.
The pilot of the plane was identified as Perry Smallwood, an Air Force veteran from Henderson, Nev. The names of the four passengers were not released pending notification of next of kin.
The bodies of the victims were to be airlifted from the mountain and taken to Kingman, Ariz., the county seat of Mohave County.
The airplane’s emergency locator transmitter sent signals after the plane disappeared from radar, but rain and snow hampered the search Tuesday night, Ms. Whitney said.
The wreckage was spotted by the pilot of a Lake Mead Air sightseeing plane who was helping in the search, said Don Donohue Jr., a spokesman for Las Vegas Airlines.
The plane was one of dozens of sightseeing craft that take hundreds of people daily on tours between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, roughly 200 miles to the east.
A 1986 collision over the canyon between a helicopter and a plane, both carrying sightseers, killed 25 people and helped lead to federal restrictions on sightseeing flights over the canyon.
A canyon sightseeing plane crashed into a hill in 1989 after an aborted landing, killing 10 people. And in May of this year, a sightseeing plane crashed in national forest four miles from the canyon rim, killing seven.