August 18, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued the pilot of an ultralight aircraft Tuesday night, August 16, after he crashed his single seat aircraft between Spearhead Peak and Fox Creek Pass in the southern portion of the Teton Range. James Mauch, 57, of Louisville, Kentucky received only minor injuries during his crash landing.
After the accident, Mauch activated a locator beacon that sent an emergency signal to the Teton County Idaho sheriff’s office. The Idaho office routed a 911 call to Teton County Wyoming who then transferred the call to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center in Moose, Wyoming at 7 p.m.
Mauch began his flight from the Driggs, Idaho airport and crashed just on the boundary between Grand Teton National Park and Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Due to the accident location—involving multiple federal, county and state jurisdictions—Teton County Search and Rescue staff requested an agency assist from the park and coordinated with the park’s emergency responders to initiate the rescue. Because of the late hour, combined with the availability of a Teton Interagency contract helicopter and park rescue staff, Grand Teton National Park rangers took the lead on organizing and conducting the rescue operation from the Lupine Meadows rescue cache. In addition, a unified command center was established at the Teton Interagency Helibase located at the Jackson Hole Airport.
Two rangers flew aboard the Teton Interagency ship and quickly spotted Mauch at 8:23 p.m. in an open area near Fox Creek Pass, just north of Spearhead Peak. Because the terrain was broad and open, the helicopter was able to set down near Mauch, and rangers placed him on board the ship at 8:37 p.m. for a flight to the Teton Interagency Helibase. A waiting park ambulance then transported Mauch to St. John’s Medical Center for treatment.
Rangers were able to mobilize, perform and complete the rescue operation by 8:45 p.m., just before the official time when air operations must cease due to darkness; this is often called the “pumpkin hour.”