Missing Carson City pilot may have flown someplace else

Steve Brown's "Tonopah Low," No. 00 biplane flies during the 2004 Reno Air Races.  photo courtesy of airventure.de

Steve Brown's "Tonopah Low," No. 00 biplane flies during the 2004 Reno Air Races. photo courtesy of airventure.de

The search for a missing pilot and his aircraft came up empty Wednesday, leaving investigators to speculate whether the Reno man just flew elsewhere.

Sheriff Kenny Furlong said Search and Rescue crews were unable to locate Steve Brown, 51, when they took to the skies Wednesday morning and flew along the Carson River from Douglas to Lyon counties.

Brown was last seen Tuesday about 3:30 p.m. at the Carson City Airport when he allegedly told people he planned to fly along the river. The casual flight wasn't expected to take long, said Undersheriff Steve Albertsen.

Brown's wife found his vehicle still parked at his hangar late Tuesday night and police began to search for the pilot about 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.

"Officers are checking some alternate destinations, at least two places in California, to see if he may have flown there," Furlong said.

Crews stopped their search about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and may resume today, depending on the weather.

Albertsen said there were no reports Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, such as fires or loud noises which could indicate the plane had gone down.

Surrounding airports were also contacted and none reported the aircraft, a Pitts S-1 aerobatics biplane, on their tarmacs.

The missing plane is black with yellow trim and the words "Tonopah Low" and the numbers "00" along the side. Lt. Ray Saylo said the wingspan is about 12 feet, and the engine has been described as sounding like a chain saw.

"It's a very small, very fast, very loud plane," he said.

The aircraft is not required to have an emergency locator, said Furlong and Brown did not file a formal flight plan with the airport.

An American Airline pilot, Brown not only flew as a career but as a hobby, said Furlong. He took the skies in the Pitts S-1 in air shows since 1990 - a list of the Pitts' accomplishments is chronicled on the aircraft's right side. In 2002, the "Tonopah Low" appeared on a commemorative coin issued by the Reno Air Race.

Anyone with information on Brown or the aircraft is asked to call the Carson City Sheriff's Department at 887-2007.

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.


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