These are some notes and a couple of recordings (silence largely removed from one and the second one largely intact during the period of nonresponse from Reno Tower) I put together earlier today,
Flight track: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N20TN/history/20110413/0730Z/KMMH/KRNO
All times in Pacific Daylight Time
1:39 AM: N20TN (callsign "Life Guard 20TN" checks in with Oakland Center on his departure from KMMH (Mammoth Yosemite).
Oakland Center assigns a squawk code (used to radar identify the aircraft and track it on radar).
1:42 AM: Oakland Center radar identifies N20TN and provides N20TN his IFR flight plan, the routing for which is direct to Reno,
and has N20TN maintain 16,000' MSL (altitude). He also issues the altimeter setting to N20TN (required).
1:51 AM: Oakland Center informs N20TN to, in the event of "lost communications," contact "Reno Approach" on 119.2 (MHz) when he is 30 miles south of the Mustang VOR (a navigation beacon, identifier FMG). At this hour of the night NORCAL Approach was providing radar service for the Reno area. This instruction is not uncommon in mountainous areas where communication can be lost occasionally.
1:57 AM: Oakland Center tells N20TN to contact Reno Approach on 119.200 (MHz).
1:57:30 AM: N20TN contacts Reno Approach (NORCAL) on 119.2. NORCAL Approach descends N20TN to 13,000' MSL and asks N20TN which runway he would like at Reno...N20TN informs NORCAL that he has the airport in sight. NORCAL clears N20TN for a visual approach to Runway 16L (16 Left) at the Reno Airport. This clearance allows N20TN to proceed direct to the airport visually.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: No communication is is heard at all from this point until approximately 2:06 AM on either Oakland Center, NORCAL Approach, or Reno Tower frequencies.
2:06 AM: N20TN is in communication with NORCAL Approach claiming that he has not been able to contact Reno Tower. N20TN informs NORCAL that he is going to try on 118.7 (the Reno Tower frequency).
2:06:40 AM: Life Guard 20TN is heard trying to contact Reno Tower - no answer after two attempts (second attempt at 2:06:55 AM).
2:07:55 AM: Life Guard 20TN is heard trying to contact Reno Tower (third attempt heard). No response.
2:08:07 AM: Life Guard 20TN informs NORCAL Approach that he has been unsuccessful in contacting Reno Tower on all published frequencies for Reno (Clearance, Ground, Tower frequencies).
2:08:20 AM: NORCAL Approach informs N20TN that they are going to try to contact Reno Tower "on an outside line." N20TN informs NORCAL that they will just circle the airport for a while.
2:08:52AM: NORCAL asks N20TN (again) if they have been able to contact Reno Tower. N20TN says no (but had not been heard trying to call as they were circling waiting for NORCAL to come back from trying to reach Tower).
2:09:04 AM NORCAL: OK, were going to call them on a phone line." (Assumption is that they had already tried calling on the FAA intercom)
2:09:10 AM N20TN: "OK, we'll circle...some more." "We've got a pretty sick patient, we may just have to land."
2:09:20 AM NORCAL: "Life Guard 0 Tango November, roger."
2:09:30 AM N20TN: "We'll do a couple of turns out here."
2:10:40 AM NORCAL: "They're not answering the phone line either, we're going to try and get another number, see if someone can go up there and check the tower."
2:13:07 AM: N20TN calls NORCAL: "Yeah, we're gonna need to land"
NORCAL: "Life Guard 0TN, roger, and landing will be at your own risk. The last reported winds was: calm."
N20TBN: "OK, we're gonna switch to Tower (frequency) and make our traffic reports."
2:14:16 AM: N20TN informs area traffic on 118.7 (Reno Tower frequency) that he is turning final for Runway 16L and landing "full stop" (which means he is landing and then taxiing off the runway).
2:15:12 AM: "Ops 7" is heard calling Reno Tower with no response. Ops 7 is most likely some sort of airport operations unit (unconfirmed).
NOTE: No inbound/outbound airport activity heard after the N20TN arrival until 2:55 AM when Tower is heard announcing "Information Juliet is current" - this is the ATIS code that is generated by the Tower each hour and is contained on a recording that is announced to pilots on a special frequency, informing pilots of the current weather and runways in use.