Six days after Tony Nicholls went missing, searchers found his plane on the side of a southeast Oregon mountain, according to Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger.
The 48-year-old pilot apparently perished when the plane crashed into the west side of Hart Mountain in Lake County on May 24. Evinger said he didnt think the crash was survivable, and he told The Oregonian that Nicholls was ejected from the plane.
Hart Mountain, which rises to more than 8,000 feet, is roughly 40 miles northeast of Lakeview, Ore., where Nicholls had been. The wreckage was spotted at about 6,500 feet at 4 p.m. Wednesday by Civil Air Patrol searchers.
An Oregon National Guard HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was sent to the scene. Its crew found the pilot and obtained the planes tail number.
No information was available on whether the crew recovered the body.
Nicholls was on a one-day trip from a Caldwell airstrip to Lakeview to drop off his two stepsons.
Radar and cellphone records indicate that the last known location for his four-seat 1978 Grumman Cheetah was near Hart Lake. The last text message his wife, Amy, received was that he had cleared the mountains.
Nicholls was owner and operator of Zamco Technologies in Caldwell.
Weather conditions were poor at the time of Nicholls flight. The emergency transponder on his plane had been removed, so searchers were looking in a 4,000-square-mile area.
Numerous public and private agencies and groups in Oregon and Idaho were involved in the search, which was ramped up Wednesday. Search managers asked sheriffs throughout Oregon for assistance, and a Facebook page called Find Tony Nicholls was created.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413