MO - Downed-plane alert a false alarm : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Volunteers and authorities search for a crash site after a beacon is activated.

By Mike Penprase News-Leader

While copters flew overhead, local volunteer firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and Civil Air Patrol searched most of Monday for a downed airplane west of Springfield.

As it turns out, the crash locator signal they were trying to track was coming from a National Guard plane parked at Springfield/Branson Regional Airport.

“Somehow, it got activated,” said airport tower watch supervisor Brent Cline said of the emergency beacon.

It could have been worse, said Bois D’Arc volunteer Sam Gonzales. A false alarm is preferable to the tragic alternative, he said.

The search, which involved about 30 firefighters with the West Republic, Brookline and Bois D’Arc departments, focused on two areas:

•Near Greene County TT and PP about eight miles west of Springfield in the morning;

•And at Greene County N and Interstate 44 in the afternoon.

Helicopters and representatives of the FAA and Civil Air Patrol used tracking equipment to find the source of the automatic crash beacon first detected early Monday.

The effort ended about 5 p.m. when the firefighters, about a dozen Greene County deputies and Missouri Highway Patrol troopers were told the search had ended.

West Republic Fire Chief Eric Ghan said his department will regard the alarm as training.

“We respond to all alarms as a priority,” he said as firefighters waited with two West Republic trucks, two rescue trucks and a pumper from the Brookline department at a truck stop at Greene County N and I-44.

“None of these are too big, none are too small,” he said.

Ghan said having department trucks out on a search wasn’t a problem when it came to the fire district’s safety because the department has mutual-aid agreements with neighboring departments.

Although firefighters at one time searched for the signal source at a private sod airstrip west of the city, they also searched through wooded areas.

“You just head back and forth because it could be anyplace,” volunteer Gonzales said.

-- Doris (, July 31, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ