British pilot Guy Anderson went missing on the final task of the PWC in Sun Valley. At the time of publication the search and rescue operation was still ongoing. Craig Morgan, our blogger, has now left the USA but reports here.
Saturday : Day 5 task 4.
The last task was set through Challis National Forest and over the Pioneer Mountains, a route we were all now familiar with.
The conditions were taxing due to dense smoke cover from the forest fires, poor thermals and windy conditions.
After crossing to the East of Ketchum most pilots struggled to climb out and endured rough and broken climbs close to the mountain slopes.
At this stage a lead group of pilots numbering approximately 40 pressed on into the mountains, Guy was amongst them.
His ‘Live tracker’ stopped transmitting at a point when other gliders were in his vicinity and at an altitude of approximately 11,000 ft – well above the terrain.
The task was stopped later due to windy conditions with two pilots in goal.
At the end of the evening at about 9pm two pilots remained unaccounted for. Juan Baccera and Guy Anderson. Juan’s location was known but Guy’s was not.
Search vehicles were dispatched that evening and drove, where possible, along the course track. The terrain, however, is mountainous and inaccessible in places with ravines steep slopes and forestry covering large areas.
Mike Pfau (Meet Director) lead the search party and found Juan safe late in the evening. Nate Scales, local resident, also headed out with Bill Belcourt and others to scour the Slaughterhouse Valley system which is demanding terrain and offered a feasible location for Guy.
Russ Ogden, Emile Van Wyk and I drove out in Nick Greece’s 4×4 to search the Fish Creek and Little Wood areas at around 11pm.
Our search concluded at 3am when we met with Mike and Juan was transferred to our vehicle in the town of Carey. Mike Pfau headed back into the high mountains alone at this point.
Our plane home left Boise at 6.45 am that morning and we drove through the remainder of the night to catch it. Guy was still unlocated as we left.
Russ Ogden remained in Sun Valley to help with the search.
The following day two private Cessnas offered their services to search for Guy along with 3 other light aircraft and a Black Hawk Search and Rescue helicopter. Seventy people are on the ground searching and the local Sherriff’s department have declared this a major incident.
Russ Ogden reported making six zig zag passes along the course track in a Cessna with no sighting.
Guy has now spent a second night in the open. The search will recommence now, 6am local Idaho time, some seven hours behind British standard time.
He will have been wearing warm clothing and had up to 6 litres of water with him including ballast.
He has a phone with him but no SPOT device and it is believed he has search and rescue cover on his insurance. Radio reception is patchy and phone reception is poor.
I am lead to believe an umbrella radio antenna point is being established by S & R teams in the locality to aid communication.
The Americans are adamant they will find Guy and we wish the rescue services swift feet and good luck.
At this point I have visited Guy’s wife and family to give them my ‘local report’.
They are extremely worried about Guy but remain upbeat about finding him as do we all. The flying community’s best wishes go to them at this difficult time.
Info: PWC Sun Valley
Craig Morgan: Craig Morgan’s blog posts
Results and info: www.paraglidingworldcup.org
Discussion: PGforum thread
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