Air Support Playing Crucial Part in Search for Missing Pilot

Pictured is Colonel Doug Alexander with the Civil Air Patrol (photo courtesy of the Arkansas Forestry Commission).

Pictured is Colonel Doug Alexander with the Civil Air Patrol (photo courtesy of the Arkansas Forestry Commission).

700 square miles were flown Wednesday (Feb. 5) by 15 different aircraft in the airspace over the location missing Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot, Jake Harrell, who last checked in with AFC Central Dispatch in Malvern on Jan. 31.

More than 200 people continue to be involved amid ground crews, aerial crews, Incident Command officials, and others.

“Eight planes from the Civil Air Patrol, four Arkansas Forestry Commission detection planes, and three helicopters from the National Guard and State Police explored areas five miles in all directions of Harrell’s supposed flight route between Oden and Wickes,” a recent news release stated.

Both helicopters and planes have people that act as spotters inside to help survey the ground, and aircraft explore new areas each day, also re-exploring previously flown space to double-check locations where snow and ice could hide the missing plane.

Ground crews continue to search areas connected to Harrell’s last cell phone frequency and work from tips provided by local residents with possible details concerning hearing or spotting Jake’s plane before it vanished.

Conditions on search routes throughout the Ouachita region continue to be dangerous, and every searcher has a hard hat, compass, extreme cold-weather gear, and detailed maps.

Currently, the search is still closed to volunteers, due to the need for a tight accountability system and specialized equipment.

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