Idaho News
9:30 am
Wed December 4, 2013

More Search And Rescue Teams Deployed In Idaho Mountains To Look For Missing California Airplane

This is a Beech Bonanza airplane. It's similar to what searchers are looking for in Idaho.
Credit NickKC7CBF / Flickr Creative Commons

Updated Dec. 4, 9:25 a.m.:  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.

Updated 5:50 p.m.: Search and rescue operations have once again been suspended for the evening.  That’s because of a lack of daylight and subsequent safety concerns for responders.

Officials were able to narrow the search area for the plane Tuesday, focusing south of the Johnson Creek airstrip, near Yellow Pine, Idaho. An emergency locator transmitter signal from the plane has been detected but is very weak.

Good weather helped in the search Tuesday, but searchers face communication challenges in the remote, mountainous terrain.

Family members have authorized the release of the names of those believed to be on the plane. They include Dale Smith, along with son Daniel Smith and his wife Sheree Smith, and daughter Amber Smith with her fiancé Jonathon Norton.

Updated 1:44 p.m.: A search by air and on ground has resumed for a small plane piloted by a founder of a California software company that disappeared two days ago in the central Idaho backcountry.

The single-engine Beech Bonanza piloted by Dale Smith lost contact with air traffic controllers Sunday near the tiny mountain town of Yellow Pine.

An executive with SerialTek, the San Jose, Calif., company Smith co-founded in 2007, said Smith was flying from Baker City, Ore., to Butte, Mont. Passengers on the plane included Smith's son and daughter-in-law, Smith's daughter and her fiancee.

For now, the search is focused on an area near a backcountry airstrip just outside the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

Original story: Search crews are back to work combing the central Idaho backcountry on ground and by air for a small plane that lost contact with air traffic controllers two days ago.

State and local search teams set out Monday to look for a single-engine Beech Bonanza near the tiny town of Yellow Pine, just outside the border of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

The plane was carrying five family members and flying from Baker City, Ore., to Butte, Mont. The pilot reported engine trouble Sunday afternoon and requested coordinates for a backcountry air strip near Yellow Pine.

More than 20 searchers on all-terrain vehicles fanned out Monday and focused on a mountain ridge near the landing strip. But heavy snow and clouds hampered the search by air.

The plane carrying five family members was flying from Baker City, Ore., to Butte, Mont. The pilot had reported engine troubles.

Authorities have not identified the occupants.

Federal Aviation Administration records show the plane's registered owner is Dale Smith, of San Jose, Calif.