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Search Resumes for Missing Small Plane Near Helena

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The search for two men whose small plane may have crashed near Stemple Pass resumed Tuesday, authorities said.

Crews have been searching the area after a report from a resident who heard what may have been a plane at about the time Sunday morning when the twin-engine Piper Seneca went missing.

Searchers have been dealing with rough terrain, poor visibility and harsh weather, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton told the Independent Record.

The search resumed about 8 a.m. Tuesday under cloudy skies with more rain in the forecast, said Sgt. Will Kussman.

The pilot reported that he was having engine trouble at 9:23 a.m. Sunday, authorities said. Four minutes later, the pilot reported he had hit a tree, and the plane’s signal was lost.

But Dutton said no one has seen any sign of the aircraft, and it is still not known if the plane crashed.

The two men on board have been identified, but police are not releasing their names pending more information and notification of their families, Kussman said. Authorities have given their ages as 60 and 70.

The men were headed north to Cranbrook, British Columbia, after a stop in Helena. Dutton said they were traveling as part of a group of about a dozen planes. One of the other planes stopped to alert authorities before joining the rest of the group on the way to Canada.

Their origin was not immediately clear Tuesday.

About 30 sheriff’s deputies and Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue members have been searching the ground while five planes and two helicopters have been used in the air, Dutton said.

Stemple Pass is on the Continental Divide about 35 miles northwest of Helena.

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