Search for missing airplane in Great Dismal Swamp continued

The wreckage of a small plane was found on the Virginia side of the Great Dismal Swamp Friday afternoon, but state police have not confirmed it is the plane officials have been searching for since Thursday.

A helicopter pilot instructor who volunteered to help Virginia State Police with the search found the wreckage about 4 p.m. and notified officials, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a news release.

Officials have not confirmed the wreckage found was that of a Cessna that was headed to the Hampton Roads Executive Airport from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Thursday afternoon but never arrived.

While searches on ground and by boat have been underway since Thursday, state police have not been able to use their own planes in the search because of the weather.

Virginia State Police and other agencies resumed their search Friday for a plane reported missing a day earlier after it did not arrive as scheduled to a Chesapeake airport.

State police, Civil Air Patrol, Tidewater Search and Rescue personnel, Chesapeake Fire and Rescue crews and state park rangers are scouring the Great Dismal Swamp for a Cessna airplane that was reported missing at about 4:15 p.m. Thursday after it did not arrive at the Hampton Roads Executive Airport, said Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for Virginia State Police.

The plane — which was traveling from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — lost its signal in the area of the swamp, Geller said.

Geller said officials are not confirming if there were passengers on the plane or confirming how many were on board if there were.

“We have been in touch with family members,” she said. “Our real focus today is locating the aircraft.”

As of noon Friday, officials had not found the aircraft or received reports of a plane crash, Geller said.

Crews are conducting a ground search of the area using dogs after an aerial search was called off Thursday night because of the weather. Planes remained grounded Friday after conditions had not improved.

The weather has made an already difficult search much harder, Geller said. She said vast and ever-changing terrain of the swamp poses significant challenges for search teams, in addition to crews not knowing exactly where to begin looking.

Anyone with information about the plane or may have seen a plane in the area should contact state police at 1-800-582-8350.

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