Two Day Search Reveals Frustrating -- But Happy -- Ending
After a 48-hour search in strong winds and rain, rescue workers
have determined a plane did not go down Monday night in northwest
Ohio. In fact -- and we say this only because the story has a happy
ending -- the whole event was triggered by a comedy of
It all started when an ELT transmitter began sending its
emergency code from a location somewhere in Fulton County, OH. The
transmitter wasn't in the tailcone of an aircraft, however, but
instead in the back of a delivery truck, still in its shipping
package, heading for delivery somewhere in Toledo.
Adding to the confusion was a well-intentioned commercial pilot
flying over Ohio, who picked up a distress call from a small plane
near Charlotte, NC. However, the pilot believed the call was coming
from northwest Ohio, according to the Toledo Blade.
The FAA had also
reported to a division of the Ohio Department of Transportation the
agency had lost contact with an aircraft.
"It's kind of an incredible group of coincidences," said Chief
Master Sgt. Gary Emery, of the US Air Force Special Operations
Command Headquarters in Florida.
It was also a false alarm that kept some searching for a sign of
the missing aircraft for 24 hours straight, and involved the Ohio
Civil Air Patrol, the Highway Patrol, numerous sheriff's deputies,
two dozen volunteers and two medical helicopters.
The situation seemed odd from the start, as no one had actually
reported a missing pilot, and all filed flight plans had been
completed. The FAA report of a missing aircraft also proved hard to
pin down, as it was later determined there had been no reports of
an aircraft falling off of Cleveland radar.
The commercial pilot who reported the distress call had actually
heard another commercial pilot flying in the south, passing along
the distress call out of North Carolina -- believed to be from the
pilot of a Cessna 150 (file photo of type, right) who made an
uneventful emergency landing in a field about 30 miles southeast of
A hard-to-pinpoint ELT signal further added to the confusion.
Searchers believed the weather was interfering with the signal --
making it appear to be moving -- but as it turns out that was
because the delivery truck it was in was also moving.