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Sat Sep 20 15:14:19 PDT 2014
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UPDATE: Search Narrowed in Search for Missing Plane
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ABBEVILLE, Ala. – Civil Air Patrol’s Alabama Wing is shifting its focus to the ground as the search for a missing 1942 Piper Cub with two men aboard enters its third day in southeast Alabama near the Georgia state line. By combining CAP cell phone forensics with witness accounts of the vintage plane’s flight, searchers are concentrating on a 1-square-mile area in Henry County along the Chattahoochee River about 2 miles south of the Walter F. George Dam, said Maj. Harvey Yarborough, who served as CAP’s incident commander for the search Thursday. “It’s a very micro-focused search at this point,” he said. “It’s going to be a beautiful day; we should have great search weather.” He described the targeted terrain as open fields interspersed with pine thickets. The vintage Piper J3C-65, a drab military observation aircraft, was reported missing Tuesday after failing to return to Headland, Alabama, after a leisure flight to Eufaula, Alabama, about 40 miles away. The pilot and his passenger took off in the two-seater at 10 a.m. and had been expected back at 2 p.m. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center asked the Alabama Wing to participate in the search after local authorities requested assistance. Maj. Justin Ogden, a CAP cell phone expert, helped narrow the search area Thursday to a 40-square-mile area by analyzing cellular signals from the plane. Those signals ceased about 11 a.m. Central time, Ogden said. Four ground teams – two each from the Alabama and Georgia wings – will be searching today, as well as three CAP planes from Alabama and two from Georgia, Yarborough said. The ground teams have “a priority track they’re going to walk, and they’re going to knock door-to-door” in search of witnesses who haven’t yet come forward, he said. “The pilot appeared to be flying over the river,” Yarborough said. “They ground teams will be looking for a possible place he could have landed if he had trouble.” He said the pilot never indicated any problems before his and his co-pilot’s cellphones went silent. CAP ground team members are highly trained, Yarborough said. They train for a year before participating in actual missions, focusing not only on search techniques and detection and interpretation of visual clues but also on investigative interviewing of witnesses. Maj. David Hester, the Alabama Wing’s assistant director of communications, began serving as CAP incident commander for the mission today. As of Thursday, the Alabama Wing had made 11 flights in search of the Piper Cub and the two men. In addition, about 25 CAP members have been involved in the mission at that time. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- UPDATE 9/19/2014 3:03 P.M. The missing pilots have been identified as MAJ (R) David M. Marlow and CW4 (R) Steven A. Haase. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- UPDATE 9/19/2014 11:12 A.M. The search area has been expanded. Still no sign of the missing plane. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- UPDATE 9/18/2014 12:03 PM Divers were delayed this morning because of a broken sonar cable. They're waiting on a replacement cable from Georgia. They're also concerned about hydrilla. Sheriff Maddox said a dive earlier today in the area where they thought the plane might be turned out to be just trees. The family says they are relieved. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- UPDATE - 9:50 A.M. - 9/18/14 From a source close to the pilot's family: Authorities have noted a hit on sonar at Lake Eufaula at the spot where an oil slick was located early on Wednesday. More investigation is planned, and divers may be sent in to search for the missing plan. Investigators say the sonar hit is 45 feet down, forcing a dive team to wait until Thursday morning to continue the search. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ UPDATE 4:31 P.M. Officials say the size, weight, composition and color of the plane could make it extremely hard to find on land or in water. If the plane had it crashed in the trees, authorities say it would not leave a large enough clearing to be seen from above. They also say it didn't have enough oil in the tank to leave a slick in water. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- UPDATE - 2:26 P.M. Report: There have been two calls from residents on Lake Eufaula, both saying they heard what they believed to be a small plane engine sputtering. The search is now moving to the area on Lake Eufaula near White Oak. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ UPDATE 10:54 A.M. Four boats are searching the water near the dam at Eufaula after an oil slick was spotted there. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ UPDATE - 10 a.m. More details have been released about a missing airplane in Henry County. The aircraft is a two-seat, I-4 Piper Cub model. It is a Green aircraft Marked with a C and a 69 in white. Authorities are asking for anyone who sees debris or unusual sightings to contact police. The airplane left Headland Airport between 10-10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, en route to Eufaula. Airport officials report the plane had enough fuel for two hours. Two people were reportedly in the plane. Their identities are not being released at this time. The pilot was supposed to pick up kids from school, but did not show up. They were reported missing to the Henry County Sheriff's Department around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The search began on Tuesday night, but was halted due to darkness, before resuming on Wednesday morning. The plane was last seen between Headland and the Chattahoochee river. It was believed to be flying northeast towards Eufaula. Airport officials report the plane does not have a black box in the cockpit. There are no hydraulics, no transponder to send back altitude, speed, or other information. There is no electrical system. The plane was built in the 1930s. Sea Tow is doing sight scans. Multiple agencies are assisting in the search. ----------------------------------------------------- HENRY COUNTY, AL - Authorities in Henry County are searching for a missing airplane. Police report the plane took off from the Headland Airport on Tuesday, bound for Eufaula, but never arrived. WTVY's Matthew McClellan is working on this story, and he'll have an update later today on News 4.


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