Search Under Way for Missing Plane Headed to Montana

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Authorities are looking for a small airplane that took off from Wyoming on Tuesday but did not land at its final destination in southern Montana.

Monique Lay, a duty officer with Montana Disaster and Emergency Services, said the Cessna aircraft left Sheridan, Wyo., at 11 a.m. and was expected to land in Laurel, Mont., near Billings after about a two-hour flight. She said she was told by Montana aeronautics officials that two people were aboard.

Messages left by The Associated Press with the Federal Aviation Administration’s regional office in Washington state were not returned Tuesday night.

Lay said local law enforcement officials in the aircraft’s likely flight path have been contacted to keep an eye out for the plane.

“Hopefully we can locate them in one of these communities,” she said. “Right now we’re just looking and hoping.”

Yellowstone County Undersheriff Seth Weston told the Billings Gazette the plane was piloted by a Billings-area man. The undersheriff stressed that officials don’t know if the plane crashed.

“We don’t know that he hasn’t landed it somewhere,” he said.

The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s office was asked to join the search Tuesday evening, but an airplane crew had to land when darkness and threatening weather made it too dangerous to fly. The Gazette reported Tuesday night that ground search crews were focusing on an area that includes Yellowstone and Big Horn counties in Montana, as well as Wyoming’s Sheridan County.

That search will continue Wednesday morning.

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