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Search Continues For Plane Possibly Missing Over Grand Canyon National Park


A search was ongoing Wednesday evening for a small, home-built plane possibly lost in Grand Canyon National Park. NPS file photo.

A search is ongoing over Grand Canyon National Park for a plane that's been missing in the area since last weekend.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the park’s helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft both flew search patterns in the Fossil Corridor and Scorpion Ridge areas with no success, park officials said. Meanwhile, the Coconino County Sheriff's Office continued its investigations and began contacting backpackers known to have been to these areas to see if anyone had seen or heard the plane on Friday.

The NPS has used both a fixed-wing airplane and helicopter in search efforts over the last several days.  Primarily the fixed-wing has been used to search for an emergency locator transmitter signal and visual reconnaissance of upper rim areas. The helicopter has focused its efforts below the rim in side canyons and rough terrain looking for visual clues.  To date, these efforts have not provided any further clues.

Officials at Grand Canyon Airport just south of the park were contacted Sunday by a general aviation pilot who reported hearing an activated emergency locator transmitter. However, a subsequent air search in an area 30 miles northwest of Grand Canyon Village failed to detect the signal nor see any wreckage, and there had been no reports of missing aircraft in the area, so the search was called off.

On Monday, the Coconino County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Office contacted the park to report a missing person, 47-year-old Joseph Radford, of Glendale, Arizona, a park release said. In the course of their investigations, the sheriff’s office had learned that Mr. Radford owned
a red, RV-6 homebuilt, experimental aircraft that also was missing, the release added. It also was determined that Mr. Radford’s plane was seen at Grand Canyon Airport shortly after 8:30 a.m. last Friday.

Joseph Radford was described as a 47-year old white male, with blue eyes, graying hair and a receding hairline.  He is 5’11” tall and weighs approximately 190 pounds.  His plane is described as an RV6 Kit Built, cherry red airplane with tail number N650RV.

Park officials say search efforts will continue over the next few days based on the probable areas determined by the original ELT signal, as weather and wind conditions allow.  Friday's efforts were to focus in the northwest zone of the search area around Fish Tail Mesa and Great Thumb Mesa.

Park officials ask that if you have seen Mr. Radford or his aircraft since Friday at 8:30 a.m., please contact the National Park Service at 928-638-7805.


He is part of Pilots n Paws and was flying a rescue dog at the time he was lost.  I am with Toy Fox Terrier Rescue and all of us in Dog Rescue who he has flown for are just sick about this.  He has transported at least 4 of our dogs.  He was transporting a dog for another rescue at the time he was lost.   These pilots do this for free and ask no money from the rescue groups.  They do this out of love of dogs.  We have all been praying that they find him safe.

Marie, Treasurer
Toy Fox Terrier Rescue

This will be a great tragedy for the Western states rescue world if he is not found.  He is a big hearted, wonderful man and has flown several of our papillons to their new homes.  I am trying to stay hopeful.

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