A Chicago pilot is offering a $20,000 reward to anyone who can tell him where his TBM Avenger crashed after he and a passenger bailed out of the warbird last May. Ron Carlson took out a full-page ad in the local newspaper, the Independent, in White River, Arizona, in December announcing the reward. As of Thursday, he said the reward hasn’t been claimed. “Everyone’s waiting for the snow to melt in spring. We have about eight private independent search parties that will be searching,” he told AVweb. The aircraft’s big radial was still making some power after it failed while he was ferrying the plane from Phoenix to Chicago and it could have flown some distance in the descending terrain, he told the newspaper.
The last Carlson and his backseater Ken Franzese saw of the big single-engine torpedo bomber, it was in a lazy descending right turn over the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona, heading south southeast. Carlson and Franzese were heading straight down into an alpine forest where they were eventually rescued. Both were hurt in their unscheduled landings but as we reported last May, Carlson vowed to find the fastidiously restored Avenger. That effort has since hit a bit of turbulence from local residents, however. Much of the land that the Avenger could have ended up on is on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and officials are reminding treasure hunters that the area is closed during the winter and they’ll need permits to drive the mountain roads when they dry up in the late spring.