By Katya Yefimova Herald Writer
SHELTON — Gordon Last’s family finally found closure after the wreckage of his plane was found north of Shelton on Friday evening.
The Lake Roesiger pilot, 51, took off from Harvey Field on Oct. 10 for an afternoon flight and didn’t return. An extensive search was launched and lasted for days, but to no avail.
On Friday evening, brush pickers stumbled upon his 1946 Taylorcraft Taildragger in a remote, wooded area about 10 miles north of Shelton and west of Potlatch State Park, said Dean Byrd, chief deputy with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.
Last’s family traveled there Saturday morning to confirm the plane was his. The Mason County coroner was expected to do an autopsy soon to formally identify the remains of the man found inside.
Federal Aviation Administration investigators were called to determine what went wrong.
“This is a very sad case, but we are glad we were able to find and recover the plane, so we can bring closure to the family,” Byrd said. “It’s had to be a terrible ordeal for the last six months.”
It was a terrible ordeal.
In the days after Last’s disappearance, his loved ones clung to hope, waiting anxiously for news from the volunteer pilots who crisscrossed the skies first over Snohomish County, then in the area between Shelton and Westport. The search was hampered by the fact that Last’s 63-year-old plane had no emergency locator beacon or transponder.
The pilot’s family is grateful for the work and dedication of everyone involved in the search, Last’s cousin, Marcus Mann, said on Saturday.
The news of the grim discovery brought a sense of peace to Last’s family and friends, Mann said. After the pilot disappeared, they worried he could be hurt and trapped inside the plane.
“Those were very difficult thoughts to carry for several months,” Mann said. The scene of the crash suggests Last died instantly, he said.
Last was a volunteer firefighter in Lake Roesiger and a diesel mechanic by trade. He loved the outdoors and grew up flying with his father.
Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, firstname.lastname@example.org.