September 7, 2007
Federal, state and local authorities have found the wreckage of a missing plane in Madison County.
Shortly after noon Friday, the plane was found in northern Madison County near Quaker Run Road.
Authorities believe the plane took off Thursday from North Carolina, and it was supposed to land in Winchester on Thursday evening.
Around midnight, the plane went off the radar, and it ended up slamming into a mountain.
Around 2:45 a.m., The Madison County Sheriff's Office received a call from the Richmond Emergency Operations Center about a possible downed plane in Madison County.
“The sheriff’s office gave me a call. Our units responded up here, met with the civil air patrol at approximately 3:45 a.m. and started our initial search,” said Madison County Sheriff Erik Weaver.
Around 6 a.m., when authorities realized the plane was up on Fort Mountain, additional assistance was called in.
The Spotsylvania Search and Rescue Squad Department arrived on scene.
The rescue and recovery began around 7 a.m., at the same time Judy Knighting was getting into work at the post office.
“Well, there were a lot of police cars and a lot of rescue vehicles. The parking lot was full, which is very unusual,” said Knighting.
The lifelong Madison County resident said she was shocked to hear that such a tragedy happened so close to home.
“Because this is a small place and we don't usually have anything like that happen,” said Knighting.
Officials say Fort Mountain is rough, steep and made up of heavy terrain. The amount of vegetation made it hard for anyone above the mountain to see the wreckage.
Ground crews were forced to make the trip up on foot, by horse and using all-terrain vehicles.
Sheriff Weaver said, “This is something out of the ordinary, but due to a group effort of all the local agencies and state agencies, we were able to locate the airplane within about a four-hour period of time once we started our initial search.”
Todd Augustus, a flightline service technician at Winchester Regional Airport, said the plane was described only as a two-to-four-seat Piper model. It took off from an airport in North Carolina. The plane had originated out of Georgia.