Searchers Check Signals; Father Claims His Family Was On Missing Plane
LOCK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) _ Air rescue workers detected two emergency signals Tuesday in their search of the snowy, mountainous central Pennsylvania terrain where a plane carrying five passengers is believed to have crashed.
State police picked up one of the signals Tuesday morning while searching a five-mile radius of the W.T. Piper Memorial Airport in Lock Haven, but were unable to locate it, said Capt. David Hege of the Civil Air Patrol.
Later Tuesday, a CAP plane heard another signal in the Jersey Shore area, about five miles east of Lock Haven, Hege said.
Rescuers, who had combed that area several times already, met Tuesday afternoon to map out a search strategy for the plane, which crashed Sunday, he said.
Meanwhile, a Lakewood, N.Y., minister said that the five on board are members of his family.
The Rev. W.G. Gerthe identified the missing passengers as his daughter Ruth Giordano and her 6-year-old daughter, Holly Jo of Newport News, Va.; and another daughter, Mary Mathews, her husband Steven, the pilot, and their son, 5-year-old Ryan, all of Asheville, N.C.
Officials have not released the identities of those aboard, and Hege said he could not comment on the names released by Gerthe.
The single-engine Mooney aircraft is believed to have crashed near Lock Haven shortly after the pilot reported engine trouble Sunday evening.
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The plane was reported missing Sunday at 5:05 p.m. while heading to Patrick Henry Field in Newport News, said Dave Copper, an air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Administration in Bradford.
The pilot reported ″his engine was running rough″ about 10 miles south of Philipsburg, according to Ted Czerwinski, FAA area supervisor there. ″It was snowing so hard all you could do was see up into the snow.″
Czerwinski said the FAA traffic-control center in New York that had radar and radio contact with the pilot, directed the plane northeast to Williamsport, where the weather was less severe.
″I guess over Lock Haven the engine conked out completely,″ he said.
Monday’s search was hampered by a snowstorm which dumped up to 4 inches in the higher elevations, CAP spokesman Clifford Wright said. Rescuers gave up for the day at 7 p.m., but the searchers’ base was open all night.