Search called off for missing plane on QIN land

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Transportation on Monday, March 20, called off the search for a missing 2006 Cessna T182 Turbo Skylane that was believed to have crashed onto Quinault Indian Nation land. 

The plane was piloted by Rod Collen on March 6, who departed from the Tacoma Narrows Airport at 5:35 p.m., fell off radar abruptly a few minutes later and has not been seen or heard from since. 

Several minutes into the flight the plane’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system was either turned off or malfunctioned and the plane was no longer visible on normal air traffic controller tracking systems. 

With the help of a specialized radar forensics team, primary radar returns were located that placed the aircraft in a 36-square mile section near the coast between Lake Quinault and Queets in rugged forest terrain. 

Photo from WSDOT: A look out from our Air Search and Rescue team’s aircraft on Tuesday, March 14. Crews remain searching for a missing Tacoma pilot who’s plane abruptly landed near Queets on Monday, March 5.

The final radar plots show the aircraft made a very rapid descent towards the ground. Collen was the only one in the plane.

WSDOT Air Search and Rescue crews searched for 13 days and found no traces of the aircraft or pilot during that time.

WSDOT, who coordinated the search alongside several municipalities and partners, exhausted all available resources, leads and areas to search based on the information provided to date. 

Recently released aerial search flight paths show extensive effort in the targeted search area by crews to locate the missing plane.

Photo from WSOT: Detailed flight paths show the intricate routes aviation search and rescue pilots flew the week of March 12, 2023. The search for Mr. Collen is ongoing at this time.Barring new leads or developments, no additional aerial searches are planned. 

Anyone who thinks they saw or heard the plane Monday, March 6, or spotted anything in the area, should call the State Emergency Operations Center at 800-258-5990 with details. The plane’s tail number is N24289. 

A detailed series of events, including photos of the mission and daily updates, were provided on the WSDOT blog.

“This is not the outcome searchers and the many partners had hoped for and our thoughts are with both the family and everyone who worked to try and locate the aircraft. The family has been kept informed of search activities and has been briefed about this decision.”

Agencies assisting in the search included: Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Tacoma Police Department, Olympic National Park, Quinault Tribal Nation, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Coast Guard, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Civil Air Patrol National Forensics Radar Team and Washington Air Search and Rescue.