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UPDATE: No sign yet of plane as crews search near Willard

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Crews in Pender County are searching for a plane that possibly went down some time yesterday.

Emergency responders have set up a command post on Crooked Run Road near Willard. Just about 1,000 yards away, a ground team of 6 people from the Penderlea Fire Department is searching.

Officials say the plane left from Albert Ellis Airport in Jacksonville yesterday morning and was headed to Michigan. They say the pilot never closed out his flight plan, which does not necessarily mean he has not landed. Regardless crews are trying to pinpoint an emergency locator beacon. Investigators say the satellites that pick the signal up are accurate, but they’ve gotten a hit in Pender County, in Duplin County and one near Mount Olive. They say no one in the area heard or saw anything.

“It is time consuming, and we have to rule out everything,” Pender County Emergency Management Director Tom Collins said. “We don’t want to go off and then we find him out here alive and leave him, so we just have to rule him out of this area.”

The Civil Air Patrol is searching by air to locate the beacon, as well as the SABLE helicopter.

Officials are not releasing the pilot’s name but they say he is in the military and his family has been notified.


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