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As Storm Approaches, Search Continues For Missing Plane in Idaho

Rescuers are searching for a white and maroon BE-36 Beech Bonanza.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Rescuers continue to search for a small aircraft carrying five people that disappeared in rural Idaho on Sunday.

The six-seat, single engine Beech Bonanza left Baker City, Oregon on Sunday morning headed for Montana. The plane reported engine trouble as it crossed central Idaho around 1 p.m. before it lost contact with air traffic controllers.

Rescue crews have been searching near the Johnson Creek airstrip, where last contact was made.

Mallory Eils from the Valley County Sheriffs Department said a weak emergency locator transmission was picked up by a search plane Tuesday morning.

“Late this morning they were able to pick up, it’s called an ELT signal, in the area where they were looking. It has helped them narrow it down. We still haven’t had any word that they’ve found anything yet,” Eils said.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports two of the plane’s passengers include BYU-Idaho students Jonathan Norton and Amber Smith, who are engaged to be married next month. The plane was piloted by Dale Smith, Amber Smith’s father and president of the Silicon Valley company SerialTek. Other passengers include Dale Smith’s son Daniel Smith and his wife Sheree Smith.

The search efforts have been hampered by poor weather in mountains already difficult to navigate.

“Central Idaho has some pretty rough and unforgiving terrain. There’s a lot of steep, heavily wooded mountain slopes,” Eils said. “So, that can definitely be a factor as far as these efforts go.”

Rescue efforts have been suspended until Wednesday morning.

Low temperatures in the area are expected to drop to near zero degrees Tuesday night.