Searchers believe they have found the wreckage of an airplane that went missing more than a week ago in Box Elder County. The Cessna 172 was carrying two occupants, the pilot 71-year-old Denny Mansell, and a passenger 74-year-old Peter Ellis.
The plane took off from the Ogden Hinckley Airport on the afternoon of December 29 but never returned. The men had told family members, they planned to fly to the Promontory area and view the trains at the Golden Spike Historical Site from the air.
Box Elder County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dale Ward said, Saturday morning searchers found an object believed to be an airplane, resting on the bottom of the Great Salt Lake, in approximately 14-feet of water. With the help of sonar equipment, they were able to determine that the object was an airplane about the size of the missing Cessna 172. There was also a sizable debris field around the aircraft.
Because of weather and equipment issues, dive teams have been unable to reach the site and determine if it is the same missing plane. They have postponed their dive temporarily until conditions improve.
Ward said searchers are confident that the located object has been absolutely identified as an
airplane, the general size and description of the missing Cessna 172.
During the past week, searchers analyzed radar data from the aircraft prior to its loss of signal. They also followed up on tips from the public and worked with analytical experts, known by the Mansell and Ellis families. They were able to determine, there was a high probability the aircraft was in the north part of the lake.
The missing aircraft is red and white in color. Its registration number is N4395R.
Deputies, along with search and rescue teams have been assisted by the Utah Department of Public Safety, Civil Air Patrol, Box Elder Communications Center, Utah Division of Natural Resources, and the Weber County Scuba/Search and Rescue.
The recovery effort is expected to continue next week.
Ward said the family appreciates the public’s help and respecting their privacy during this difficult time.
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