Nighthawk Leads SAR Mission for Missing Aircraft

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ALBANY — Shackelford County Sheriff’s Department officials on Tuesday identified the remains of two Taylor County residents who died in a plane crash Monday night.

Pilot Dale “Scooter” Phillips Jr. and passenger Amy Clay, both of Taylor County, were en route from Abilene to a “destination in Oklahoma” when their plane went down, Sheriff Edward Miller said.

According a news release from the Civil Air Patrol, Phillips was flying a Piper Comanche aircraft from Abilene to Norman, Okla.

Civil Air Patrol, fire departments, the Texas Department of Public Safety and “other rescue agencies here in the county” were notified, Miller said, and officials began searching for the craft northeast of town. The search area eventually narrowed down to an area of rugged ranchland.   Major Steve Robertson, Nighthawk Squadron Commander, was the Incident Commander for the SAR operation.  LtCol Rick Woolfolk, Lt Seth Hudson, and Lt Jared Cryer from the Nighthawk Squadron provided an on scene liasion team for the fire departments and sheriff’s office.  Lt Steve Dodson and Lt Albert Welch assisted with planning and communications at the CAP Mission Operations Center in Denton, TX.

Civil Air Patrol aircaft from Wichita Falls, TX and a Ground Team from Abiliene, TX conducted a search that night for an Emergency Locator Transmitter signal but did not pick up the aircraft’s beacon.

“We started searching again at 7 a.m., right at daylight,” Sheriff Miller said. Civil Air Patrol aircraft out of San Angelo, Dallas and Fort Worth assisted in the search, as did a DPS helicopter.

“Myself and two representatives with Civil Air Patrol, with a piece of equipment that detects the emergency call box for aircraft, we started searching the ranch areas where our last coordinates were,” Miller said. “We had some information from the Air Force, a 3-D radar signal.”

Around 9:22 a.m. a small section of the aircraft’s wing was discovered. The craft’s fuselage and the remains of its occupants were found about three-quarters of a mile northwest of where the first piece of wreckage was discovered.