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PIUTE COUNTY -- The pilot of a sailplane was killed when his aircraft crashed in a rugged area of South Central Utah.
It took searchers about 12 hours to find the wreckage of the non-motorized glider. A Piute County deputy sheriff spotted the wreckage Sunday morning from the highway.
The Civil Air Patrol then flew over the scene and could tell the pilot didn't survive.
It's one of many missions these volunteers assist in every year. The Utah Wing of the Civil Air Patrol has 700 members across the state.
"Civil Air Patrol is one of those organizations where we are all volunteers," said Capt. George Tudder. "We're pilots who are out there looking after pilots.
Just after midnight Sunday, the Civil Air Patrol got the call about a 52-year-old pilot who was missing. He was in a sailplane which was towed into the air by a plane. After being released, the glider uses its wingspan to stay airborne.
The pilot took off from Parowan, but the search was focused in Piute County, where he asked for directions to the nearest airport."
By 2 a.m., two search planes were in the air. At the command center, a team worked through the night, identifying a possible flight path and areas where the plane may have gone down.
At 6:30 a.m., four more Civil Air Patrol planes joined the search with the Piute County Sheriff's Office.
"We were able to bring one of the sheriff's deputies with us and found a high value target area that actually did end up being the site," said Capt. George Tudder with the Civil Air Patrol. "At the same time, the sheriff's search and rescue team was able to get up there on the ground and confirm that sight."
Civil Air Patrol is one of those organizations where we are all volunteers. We're pilots who are out there looking after pilots.
–Capt. George Tudder
The wreckage was discovered about three miles west of Marysvale, in the remote Tushar Mountains. The plane's tail was missing and debris was scattered across the mountainside. A rescue helicopter team from Page, Ariz., helped recover the pilot's body.
While this search ended tragically, the Civil Air Patrol is always available to respond to a pilot's call for help.
"To help that morale of someone who may be in a lost situation," said Tudder. "If you hear a low-flying plane, there's a good chance they are looking for you and that's a good sign and can give you a boost, especially if you have to make it through the night. At least you know somebody's coming out there.
The identity of the pilot has not been released, but officials say he is from Spring Valley, Calif. Officials say it's likely he got into trouble in the high mountain peaks.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.