BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Air and ground crews have suspended their search for a plane that went missing in Idaho's backcountry on Dec. 1 with five people aboard, including a Silicon Valley executive.
Mel Coulter of the Idaho Transportation Department said aircraft had been flying as late as Wednesday over rugged mountains where the single-engine Beechcraft disappeared near Yellow Pine, about 150 miles north of Boise.
But Coulter said worsening conditions and safety concerns nearly two weeks after the plane vanished prompted crews to "reluctantly" halt operations Thursday.
Aboard the six-seat plane were its 51-year-old pilot, Dale Smith, a software executive from San Jose, Calif.; his son, Daniel Smith and his wife, Sheree Smith; and daughter Amber Smith with her fiance, Jonathon Norton.
They were en route from Baker City, Ore., where the family had been spending the Thanksgiving holiday, to Butte, Mont., where Daniel and Sheree Smith live.
That's when Dale Smith reported engine trouble and sought information about the location of a backcountry landing strip where he hoped to put the plane down safely.
"We reluctantly suspended the search because of worsening conditions and concern for the safety of our search teams," said Mike Pape, administrator of the Idaho Transportation Department's Division of Aeronautics, in a statement. "We are prepared to resume the search if there is specific, credible information about the plane's location. Our hearts go out to family members and friends as they await word about their love ones."
Family and friends of those aboard the plane who have also been searching announced this week their efforts were winding down, too, though they predicted that efforts would eventually resume as conditions become more conducive.
"We will, eventually, find them," Alan Dayton, of Salt Lake City, told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1bF3zSE ). "Until then, we will always have our memories of them. Nothing changes that."
According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Smith, an executive and co-founder of San Jose-based SerialTek, obtained his pilot's license in 2005.