Air and ground search underway for missing plane and pilot near Humpback Mountain. (WSDOT photo)

Air and ground search underway for missing plane and pilot near Humpback Mountain. (WSDOT photo)

Pilot found dead near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger’s wife reported he never made it to his destination Sunday evening. Wreckage of his plane was found Monday afternoon.

ARLINGTON — A search team found the remains of an Issaquah aerobatics pilot and patent attorney Monday, along with the wreckage of his plane, a day after he departed from Arlington Municipal Airport and went missing near Snoqualmie Pass.

Around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, pilot Jerry Riedinger took off from the Arlington airport in a 2001 Extra Flugzeugbau E300L — a popular aerobatics plane used in airshows — headed about 200 miles east to Ephrata, according to the state Department of Transportation. About 90 minutes later, his wife reported he never made it to his destination.

On Sunday evening, state Air Search and Rescue, along with King County sheriff’s deputies, searched along I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass, “where last known cell phone analytics were recovered,” about 90 miles southeast of Arlington.

Jerry Riedinger (Photo provided by Perkins Coie)

Jerry Riedinger (Photo provided by Perkins Coie)

“The pilot was reportedly carrying a parachute, and the aircraft was equipped with a new 406MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter,” according to the state Department of Transportation. “There has been no communication from the aircraft and no emergency beacon signals received. Riedinger was the only known occupant.”

Over 220 people joined in the search, with air support. Search efforts were concentrated in the Humpback Mountain area, west of Snoqualmie Pass. The plane was discovered around 1:30 p.m. Monday, in what authorities described as a “heavily forested area of the mountain.” Riedenger was deceased in the plane.

Riedinger, 69, of Issaquah, graduated with honors from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago in the early 1980s. He earned his license to practice law in Washington in 1996, according to the state bar assocation. He worked as an intellectual property attorney at Seattle firm Perkins Coie LLP for nearly 30 years, according to his LinkedIn. He also authored legal articles on patent and property litigation.

Riedinger represented Nintendo as a defendant in multiple cases, according to his website. He also represented Anacor Pharmaceuticals as a claimant, winning over $100 million in damages for his client in a dispute with Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

Outside of the courtroom, Riedinger learned to fly at age 18, according to an article in the East Oregonian newspaper. But it took him another three decades, he said, to become “a real pilot.”

“Because if you can’t fly it upside down, say those who fly aerobatic aircraft, you’re not really a pilot,” read a newspaper profile of aerobatic aviators in Oregon from 2018.

He had learned how to do aerial tricks, like spins and split-S maneuvers, while reapplying for his pilot license.

“It was so much fun, and it was aerobatics ever since,” he told the Oregon newspaper.

Riedinger and his wife Peggy both served as board members and national judges of the International Aerobatics Club. Riedinger was a longtime competitor in the Northwest Region, in the advanced category.

FlightAware data showed the plane was last known to be in the air around 4:45 p.m., while climbing to a height of 5,600 feet, after flying past Bandera State Airport. Humpback Mountain — and other notable peaks in the area — are over 5,000 feet in elevation.

Screenshot of FlightAware data that suggests the plane was last reported in the air around 4:45 p.m., while climbing to a height of 5,600 feet, after flying past Bandera State Airport. (FlightAware)

Screenshot of FlightAware data that suggests the plane was last reported in the air around 4:45 p.m., while climbing to a height of 5,600 feet, after flying past Bandera State Airport. (FlightAware)

The Extra 300L plane was registered to a downtown Seattle address. It had first been certified airworthy in 2001, and it was powered by the standard-issue Lycoming AEIO-540 engine, according to a Federal Aviation Administration registry.

“On behalf of the search and rescue team, WSDOT offers our sincere condolences to the entire Riedinger family,” read an update from the Department of Transportation. “WSDOT is thankful for those who provided their time or expertise during the search mission.”

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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