Search Resumes for Missing Plane and BYU-I Students

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Updated: 12/04/2013 11:25 am
UPDATE: More search and rescue personnel have joined a team scouring the central Idaho mountains for five people aboard a plane that disappeared two days ago.

Rob Feeley of the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security said Wednesday the search has resumed with seven aircraft and at least 18 new members of a ground party looking for the Beech Bonanza piloted by Dale Smith, a 51-year-old software executive from San Jose, Calif. Smith departed Sunday from eastern Oregon with four family members bound for Butte, Mont.

He reported engine trouble and sought coordinates for a landing strip near the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness 150 miles northeast of Boise. Though a faint emergency beacon was detected, pinpointing it has been difficult because it may be bouncing off the steep, densely-forested mountains.

PREVIOUS STORY: The search for a missing plane and a family of five has been suspended for the night because, without daylight, it can be dangerous for searchers.

The Idaho Transportation Department has identified the family members on the plane.  The pilot was Dale Smith.  Dale's son Daniel and his wife Sheree, along with Dale's daughter Amber and her fiancé Jonathon Norton were all passengers.  Brigham Young University of Idaho confirmed two of the passengers are students in Rexburg.  The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Jonathon Norton is a senior accounting major who grew up in Utah.  Amber Smith also attends BYU-I. 

Teams narrowed the search area Tuesday to south of the Johnson Creek airstrip, near Yellow Pine.

Crews did locate an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal but it is very weak and a specific location for the plane is still not known.

Better weather Tuesday allowed two fixed-wing planes from the Civil Air Patrol and two helicopters from the Idaho National Guard to search from the air.

Searchers hope weather conditions in the coming days will allow for continued air and land support.

Roughly 40 people will continue searching tomorrow.  They consist mostly of members of the Valley County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho Transportation Department, Civil Air Patrol, Idaho Army National Guard, United State Forest Service, Idaho Fish and Game, the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security as well as other volunteers and members of the family. Three more fixed-wing airplanes  from the Civil Air Patrol are expected to help out as well.
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