Unidentified plane lands on mesa

A helicopter rescues a downed airplane from Parriott Mesa. Photo courtesy of Craig Childs

The Bureau of Land Management is investigating multiple reports it received regarding a helicopter that lifted a small aircraft marooned on top of Parriott Mesa in Castle Valley Monday morning.

A BLM official confirmed the bureau’s law enforcement rangers were looking into the salvage operation and that it “did not authorize film permits or special recreation permits for activities, including helicopters or planes in the general area of Castle Valley last weekend.”

An eyewitness who lives in Castle Valley who didn’t want to be identified said the airplane was one of two circling above the mesa Sunday night. “I saw the apparent landing last night … I could not tell if it had become stuck, but it obviously had,” said the man, who added a neighbor with a private airstrip told him the pilot also landed on his property without permission, but took off before he could make contact. The neighbor did, however, say he had a phone conversation with one of the two pilots who told him he landed “unannounced” on the airstrip due to a bent propeller.

A helicopter flies away from Parriott Mesa, carrying a downed airplane. Photo courtesy of Craig Childs

BLM spokesperson Lisa Bryant said the bureau appreciates people reporting suspicious activities. She said Monday’s incident resulted in multiple phone calls and emails reporting the incident.

The Times-Independent was unable to enlarge the photographs in an effort to find identifying markers. An employee at Pinnacle Helicopters in Moab said it wasn’t involved in the incident. An employee at Canyonlands by Night and Day said the company had received phone calls about the incident, but it books scenic helicopter and airplane tours and doesn’t own any aircraft.

An employee with Redtail Air, a tour operator like Pinnacle – both are the only helicopter businesses based at Canyonlands Field – said they were not involved. The man said the pilots might have gone elsewhere. “It looks like this was done under the radar, but I don’t know any more than that,” he said.