April 8, 1997 in Nation/World

A-10 May Be Buried In Snow Searchers Concentrate Efforts On Central Colorado Mountain

Associated Press
 

Five days after an Air Force jet disappeared in Arizona, searchers aided by a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft concentrated their efforts Monday on a mountain in the central Colorado Rockies.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane could be buried under snow on the side of New York Mountain, about 100 miles west of Denver, said Capt. Leslie Pratt of the Colorado Civil Air Patrol.

“There’s nothing definitive. We think based on the latest FAA reading that that’s where we’re going to find it,” Pratt said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has used tips from the public and radar logs to try to re-create the possible path of the A-10 since it disappeared from southwestern Arizona on Wednesday.

The aircraft was with two other jets headed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson to a bombing range. The jet piloted by Capt. Craig David Button vanished after in-flight refueling.

FAA records have tracked what investigators believe is the plane traveling in the opposite direction of the bombing range - northeast through Arizona, across far northwestern New Mexico and into Colorado - about 775 miles off course.

Pratt said new FAA information showed a possible radar track between Vail and Eagle, Colo. A motorist along Interstate 70 reported seeing smoke on the 12,467-foot New York Mountain one day last week.

Joining in the search Monday was a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft from Beale Air Force Base in Marysville, Calif.

Air Force officials said the pilot could have been incapacitated by a blackout, seizure or heart attack and could have activated the plane’s autopilot mechanism.

The missing pilot had been training to fly an A-10 for about six weeks.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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