A six-seat single-engine plane disappeared from radar shortly after the pilot, Dale Smith, an executive from San Jose, CA radioed Salt Lake City air traffic controllers about engine trouble and to seek coordinates of the Johnson Creek Air Strip in Idaho. According to the Valley Country Sheriff’s Office late Friday, The Dec. 1 crash left no survivors.
They say that efforts to recover the bodies may be hampered by an incoming storm.
Dale Smith was co-founder and president of San Jose based hardware and software company, SerialTek. Smith’s son Daniel was onboard with his wife Sheree, as was his daughter, Amber and her fiancé Jonathon Norton.
Smith’s wife, Janis, as well as another daughter stayed behind.
The plane was traveling from Baker City, OR to Butte, MT where Daniel and Sheree Smith lived. The five people aboard the plane had been spending the Thanksgiving holiday in eastern Oregon. The aircraft caught fire and crashed in a remote stretch of central Idaho, 150 miles northeast of Boise, just seconds following final communication with controllers. They were traveling at an altitude of 9000 feet leaving the chance of survivors very low.
The wreckage of the 1980s-model Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft was discovered yesterday by a team that included the brother of the 51-year-old pilot.
According to the Idaho Statesman, authorities suspended the search on Dec. 12 due to debilitating weather conditions, including subzero temperatures, heavy snow, inadequate visibility and precarious terrain. A team of volunteers, including friends and relatives continued using online analysis of satellite images and other images of mountain terrain.
Several days after the plane crash, search and rescue teams detected a weak signal from an emergency locator transmitter.
Another aviator thought he caught a glimpse of shimmering material and the online rescue patrol began analyzing landscape photos of that area, Janis Smith told the Associated Press.
On Jan. 8, Smith’s brother launched a three-day effort to search the area south of Johnson Creek, Idaho for evidence of the plane crash, though it had grown apparent that the crash had left no survivors. Some search and rescue team members used ATVs and snowmobiles. Prior to that, ongoing attempts to fly to the area one mile east of the Johnson Creek Air Strip had been futile due to poor weather.
In a Facebook post, Janis Smith wrote “Dellon (brother of Dale Smith) and his crew spent the entire day, from 3 a.m. onward trying to find the right location. The plane is in pieces and buried in snow. They have not yet found all the parts.”
According to the NBC Bay Area, The Idaho Statesman newspaper published that Janis thanked searchers via Facebook, and notified them that the wreckage was located less than two hours prior to wrapping up the search for the anticipatable future.
Dellon told the Idaho Statesman that he knew the harsh conditions were forcing the search to draw to a close and that he was “desperate” to locate the missing family members.
“At first you feel guilty sleeping in your warm bed at night,” Dellon Smith, a commercial pilot, told the paper. “You want to spend every minute out there. You know they’re out there.”
Dellon is an Anchorage, AK resident who is a commercial aircraft pilot. Janis told the Associated Press that Dellon had informed her immediately that the plane had split apart and was inundated by snow and that while not all of the parts had been located likelihood of survivors left by the Idaho plane crash was very low. “We do know my family members on the plane died quickly and painlessly,” Janis said on her Facebook page. “They did not suffer.”