Belden, CA Two Civil Air Patrol Officers Die in Crash of Their CAP Cessna 305A During a Search Mission, Sep 1982
Civil Air Patrol members Robert L. Tarwater and Clifford D. Van Meter lost their lives when their Civil Air Patrol Cessna 305A crashed during a search mission on September 26, 1982. The accident happened near Belden, California.
BELDEN, Calif. -- A search plane crashed and burned, killing the two men on board during a weekend search for another aircraft that went down with four people Sept. 18.
The two-seat Cessna 305 carrying pilot Clifford Van Meter of Vacaville and spotter Robert Tarwater of Chico crashed into a hillside in rugged Plumas County Sunday night.
The bodies remained in the wreckage where a deputy stood guard until a search and rescue team could remove them today, county officials said.
Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Betty Klein of the Lincoln Airport search base said the cause of the crash was uncertain. But she said a strong gust of wind could have smashed the plane into the rugged terrain between Belden and the Feather River where the search for another downed plane was being conducted.
'It wasn't a weather related accident,' Ms. Klein said. 'We had no report of turbulence in the area prior to the crash. There is always a chance you will run into turbulence in the mountains... it's a chance you take.'
The two men had flown out of the Nut Tree Airport in Vacaville to join the massive search for a downed Cessna 182 that disappeared last weekend with four Colusa County men aboard.
Pieces of the earlier crash were found in the Belden area. Search officials feared the plane may have ended up in the Butte Valley Reservoir.
Missing from the Sept. 18 crash are Mike Foley, 35, and Robert Purcell, 30, of Colusa, and Dan Price, 54, William Struckmeyer, 60, of Arbuckle.
National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Data Summary:
DURING A SEARCH MISSION, THE SUBJECT AIRCRAFT WAS SEEN TO TURN, THEN APPARENTLY SLOW OR PAUSE AND THEN DISAPPEAR INVERTED INTO HIGH TREES AT THE 4600 FOOT LEVEL. PARTS OF THE AIRCRAFT BEING SEARCHED FOR WERE ONLY 300 FEET FROM THE CRASH OF THE SUBJECT AIRCRAFT. THE AIRCRAFT WAS DESTROYED BY POST-IMPACT FIRE.
Clifford D. Van Meter memorial (Marker reads Don Van Meter) - https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/25622252/don-van_meter