%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)

MIAMI (AP) _ A two-seat State Department plane bound for Florida from islands near the Bahamas was missing late Monday, officials said.

The last contact with the Ayres S2RHG-T65 was at 10:20 a.m. Monday, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. It departed from Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas and was destined for Patrick Air Force Base in Melbourne, on Florida's east coast.

Coast Guard and Air Force planes were searching an area 50 miles southeast of Freeport, Bahamas late Monday, said Petty Officer Robert Suddarth, a Coast Guard spokesman. Pilots that returned from searching reported poor weather and visibility, he said.

Only the pilot, a 20-year veteran of the State Department, was aboard the plane, Suddarth said. The pilot's name was not released.