Pilot found dead inside plane wreckage near mountain in Washington state

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The pilot and plane that crews have been searching for since going missing Sunday evening in Washington state have been found. Unfortunately, 69-year-old Jerry Riedinger was found dead inside.

Crews found the plane’s crash site around 1:30 p.m. in a heavily forested area near Humpback Mountain, just west of Snoqualmie Pass.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), search and rescue crews were notified Sunday evening about a missing 2001 Extra Flugzeugbau 300/L that was being piloted by Riedinger. The King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) said the 69-year-old from Issaquah was reported missing near Bandera State Airport just before 6:15 p.m. Sunday.

The WSDOT said Riedinger left Arlington Municipal Airport around 4:30 p.m. Sunday and was expected to land in Ephrata in Grant County, but he never arrived. Officials said the tail number for the missing aircraft is 22MW.

“It was first reported by his wife who was already over there waiting for him to show up, so when he was over an hour late she initiated a call for help,” said Tom Peterson, WSDOT Air Search and Rescue Coordinator.

Riedinger was reportedly carrying a parachute, and the plane was equipped with a 406MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter. The 69-year-old was the only person on the plane at the time.

The KCSO said the plane was last seen around 8,000 feet in the air when “connection was lost.” Officials said there had been no communication from the plane, and no emergency beacon signals were received.

There are still a lot of questions about what could have gone wrong.

“There was a little bit of weather in the area, so that may have played a part in it other than that we don’t know it was a highly capable aircraft and an experienced pilot,” said Peterson.

Dozens of search and rescue crews searched an area east of North Bend Sunday night. In an update Monday morning, the WSDOT said a 50-person search was underway on the ground and one aircraft was searching the area from the sky.

Crews were focusing their search efforts Monday on a “concentrated area in the Humpback Mountains west of Snoqualmie Pass.” The WSDOT said the area is where Riedinger’s last known cell phone data was recovered.

“We have a pretty good idea where this aircraft should be within a one-mile circle and we’re focusing on that really heavily this morning,” said Peterson before finding the crash site.

Officials said Riedinger was also reportedly carrying a parachute, but it was not used.

WSDOT said over 220 people from numerous agencies assisted in the search efforts from Sunday and Monday. The search was concluded after the crash site was found.

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