Due to poor weather and lack of new information, the search for the missing airplane in Valley County will be scaled back today (Friday, Dec. 6). Poor visibility has led to grounding of aircraft, leaving a limited number of ground searchers who will be working the area today until the weather no longer permits safe operation.
Since radar contact was lost Sunday afternoon (Dec. 1), officials have dedicated all available resources and exhausted every option in finding the plane. Multiple Idaho Army National Guard helicopters, a Customs and Border Protection helicopter, and a privately-held helicopter, have combed the area as have multiple fixed-wing aircraft from the Idaho Transportation Department, Civil Air Patrol and citizens.
Ground crews, including those from Valley County Sheriff’s Office, Valley County Search and Rescue, Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue, Idaho Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service and members of the family, have hiked the ridges and valleys in the vicinity of Johnson Creek Airstrip and the surrounding areas.
The temporary flight restriction (TFR) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration in the search area has been lifted. The TFR limited airspace travel to authorized aircraft, eliminating conflicts between searchers and transitioning aircraft.
The Valley County Sheriff’s Office will continue to consider other options and possibilities if and when new information comes available and as conditions and resources allow. Officials are asking for any pilot flying in the area to keep an eye out for any signs of the missing aircraft. The possibility exists for the aircraft to be outside of the initial search area, but the vast and remote nature of the backcountry area limits the ability to extend the search any further at this time.
“Forecasts call for snowfall throughout the weekend and into next week,” said Incident Commander Lt. Dan Smith with the Valley County Sheriff’s Office.
“Even though we want to locate this plane, the one thing we cannot do is put people in harm’s way.”
This release was sent out by the Idaho Department of Transportation.