A good view of the Western face of legendary Superstition Mountain, the area of the crash. It was hard to tell exactly where the plane hit from the night time news helicopter coverage but it was near the top. This should give you an idea of the kind of terrain rescuers are working in.
The Pinal County Sheriff is working a twin engine plane crash tonight up high on the Flatiron in the Superstition Mountains West of Phoenix. Six people reportedly left Falcon Field in Mesa at about 1830 Wednesday night bound for Safford, Arizona and a Thanksgiving Day celebration with family and friends.
A surveillance camera caught the explosion and subsequent fires from miles away to the South and was posted here on YouTube shortly after the news broke. Pinal County Deputies and SAR Techs were flown in by an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter and are looking for survivors amongst the strewn out wreckage and fuel fed fires.
I know this area very well. I have been hiking the Sups since 1975 and been involved in many search and rescue missions on and around the Flatiron slash Siphon Draw area. As the picture above clearly shows, it is incredibly steep and rugged terrain with shear cliffs all around. It just doesn’t get much tougher than this folks. Gods speed to the first responders and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those that were on board. Always hard any time something like this happens but particularly poignant at Thanksgiving.
UPDATE – I have done several telephone interviews with local TV stations talking about what rescue crews are dealing with up there and the truth is that is is about as difficult as it gets. Each SAR mission presents its own unique set of problems and challenges that have to be identified, assessed, negotiated and eventually overcome. This one had just about all the bad boxes checked. The only thing not going against Pinal last night was the weather but even that is expected to change late this afternoon.
It is daylight now and we can see exactly where the plane hit the mountain. It is at the very top in the hoodoos just to the North of the Flatiron about a half mile as the crow flys. Channel 10 News Helicopter pilot Rick Crabbs, a former MCSO pilot I have flown with many times, said that another 100 feet or so and they would have cleared the top and missed the mountain completely.
As far as we know, a father, his three young children, and two other adults were on board and now presumed dead. Based on what I can see of the scene and the mechanism of injury it was all over in a millisecond. No one suffered.
A time lapse picture of DPS “Ranger” coming in to land on the Flatiron. Note the still burning wreckage where it came to rest at the base of the hoodoos.
A shot from the top of the hoodoos looking South Southwest at the Flatiron (now being used as a mountain LZ to shuttle rescuers and investigators to and from the scene) and the town of Apache Junction down below. The crash site is immediately below the tall rocks (hoodoos) in the center right foreground.
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