RIPLEY COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The Civil Air Patrol continues day four of its search for a missing airplane Thursday.
The Missouri Wing Group II of the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary was activated by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center to help search for a plane flying from Arkansas to Wisconsin.
Searchers originally believed the plane was a Piper Navajo PA31, a twin engine, low wing aircraft but late Monday night the Civil Air Patrol said the plane was actually a Piper Cherokee PA28 which is a single engine plane.
Ripley County Sheriff Ron Barnett says the plane left Florida bound for Wisconsin. He says it disappeared from the radar around the Fairdealing and Naylor areas on Sunday.
Three aircraft and one ground team searched Thursday morning. Fog delayed the launch of the aircraft Thursday. Crews are expanding the search to include the Farmington area.
Family members are assisting in the search as well.
The Civil Air Patrol searched in a concentrated effort Wednesday in the search for a missing single engine airplane in Ripley and Butler counties.
The Civil Air Patrol called off its search for a missing plane in the Doniphan and Poplar Bluff areas Tuesday due to weather conditions. One CAP aircraft from St. Louis and one ground team from Rolla were able to search Tuesday morning until weather canceled the rest of the day's planned search.
Four aircraft from Branson, Malden, and the St. Louis area and three ground teams from Lebanon and Rolla areas are planned to search on Wednesday. The ground crews are on standby.
Crews are focusing around the highest priority sites based on radar tracking and interviews with possible witnesses. They are also expanding the search to include Arkansas and Iron County. Weather may affect the search on Wednesday.
An airplane headed to Eau Claire is still missing, and an Eau Claire family is on its way to help in the search.
According to WQOW in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the family of a woman named Kim Reneau said she was supposed to return home Sunday.
WQOW reports Reneau is a well-known businesswoman in the area. WQOW News 18 spoke with her daughter Tuesday who said family members left for Missouri Tuesday afternoon because they, "Couldn't just sit here and mourn, and rely on strangers."
The heavily wooded hills with limited road access have proved to be difficult terrain for the all-volunteer CAP members.
Monday night, members of the Civil Air Patrol searched for the missing airplane in Ripley and Butler counties but had to stop when it became too dark.
CAP aircraft based out of Malden and Chesterfield searched most of the day Monday.
Crews thought they found something Monday but it turned out to be a dump site.
Lt. Col. David Miller, the public information officer with the Civil Air Patrol in Missouri, says the rescue team did a detailed grid search starting where the plane lost contact and searched outward. After searching more than 1600 square miles on Monday, crews continued their search Tuesday around the Doniphan and Poplar Bluff area before weather forced crews to stop.
Four CAP aircraft from Fulton, Malden, and St. Louis and four ground teams from Branson, Ft. Leonard Wood, Lebanon, and St. Louis areas searched more than 1,600 square miles without success Monday.
More than 30 members of the Missouri Wing are involved in the search.
Officials believe a man and a woman are on the plane. Authorities are checking cell phone records, but no names have been released.
Barnett says he does not believe the two are from the Heartland. Although there are reports the two stopped in Corning, AR.
Chief Air Traffic Controller Larry Davis out of the Cape Girardeau Airport explains that just because the plane vanished off radar doesn't necessarily mean it crashed.
"Radar coverage in that area goes down to about 1,900 feet," said Davis. "It would be possible for a pilot to descend below an overcast in order to stay in visual conditions and then continue along his route or turn towards a direction where he thought the weather was better."
Anyone with information about the missing plane, no matter how seemingly insignificant including sounds of a possible aircraft in trouble, is asked to call the CAP Mission Information Officer at 314-623-0831.