An inactive airplane that was being worked on in a hangar at the Granbury Regional Airport late Wednesday afternoon was found to have its emergency locating beacon inadvertently switched on, which apparently led to a search for a possible downed aircraft.
Fire Marshal Jeff Young told the Hood County News Thursday morning that investigators now suspect that a metal panel from part of the airplane may have fallen and accidentally set off the locator beacon.
That beacon signal led to a search that turned up no evidence of any crash, and no pilots have been reported missing.
Young said that he thinks that maybe what was originally considered to have been “mayday” calls reported by three separate pilots in the area were actually not verbal distress calls, but were merely prompted by hearing the emergency beacon.
“It was reported to us as ‘pilots heard a mayday.’” Young said.
The search by Hood County firefighters, deputies and other local officials began shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday (May 19). Young said shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday that most of the search had been focused on an area about 5 miles northeast of the Granbury Regional Airport, but was suspended "pending more information." Hood County radio dispatch called the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, which may have given an approximate area to search through radar images, according to Young.